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The Bodyguard

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Chapter 1

“We are going to have to take this crackpot seriously now.”

“What for? As you said, he’s just a crackpot. He’ll forget about it soon enough.”

“Ruth could have been killed!”

“That’s her job,” Doyle said with a negligent shrug, propping his feet on the coffee table. They’d had this discussion several times over the past couple of days and he was almost beginning to wish he’d been the one bitten, just to put an end to George’s harassment.

“No, it’s not. Her job is to open your fan mail and select the interesting correspondence for you to look at and choose which admirer to send an autographed picture to. She is also to ensure that your clothes are always clean and ready to wear and that your electric shaver is fully charged. Nowhere at all in her job description does it say she must accept the chance that some lunatic fan will send you a poisonous snake in the post and she’ll be the one to get bitten!” George Cowley paced around the hotel room angrily. “For god’s sake, man! Have you no shred of compassion?”

“Look, I’m sorry Ruthie got bitten. But at the end of the day, it’s better that she get it rather than me. Besides, you got her to the hospital on time.”

“And what happens if this person continues with their efforts to put an end to you, Ray?” Cowley asked. “When the letters started coming, certainly, we all had a laugh, thinking they were harmless – just some nutter releasing their frustrations. Almost being hit by a car could have been an accident, but this latest… There was no accident about this, even you must admit that.”

“What do you want me to do about it?” Doyle asked. “Shall I cower at home and disappoint all my fans who have already paid good money to see me and hear me sing? If that’s your idea, you can just forget it, George.”

“No, I’m not suggesting we cancel,” Cowley said with a frown. “The potential lawsuits would bankrupt you.”

“And you wouldn’t get your cut,” Doyle said with a cynical laugh.

Cowley ignored the comment. “If we are to continue, we will need to take more precautions. To that end, I’ve engaged a bodyguard for you.”

“A what?” Doyle leapt to his feet, hands on his hips he stared at Cowley in shock and anger. “I don’t need a fucking babysitter! Having you around is a necessary evil, I don’t need someone else hanging about flexing his muscles and trying to look menacing when all he’s really doing is freeloading off me!”

Pouring two drinks, Cowley handed one to Doyle. “You’ll accept this bodyguard, lad, or the police will shut the tour down while they try to find the mad bastard who’s trying to kill you.”

“I can take care of myself,” Doyle said, clenching his hand into a fist with a nasty smile curling his lips.

“Fisticuffs will not protect you from bullets or out of control automobiles, Ray.” Ignoring Doyle’s belligerent posture, Cowley strode over to the window, twitching the curtain aside to look down at the street.

Downing his drink in one swallow, Doyle dropped back down onto the couch. Spreading his legs wider in invitation, knowing it would draw attention to the bulge at his groin, he unfastened two more buttons on his shirt. It annoyed Cowley to no end when he displayed himself so sexually and that’s exactly why Doyle did it. His second favourite pastime – when there was no one around worth fucking – was annoying his manager by posturing like a rent boy because George Cowley was a crotchety old Scots bugger with a puritan streak a mile wide.

It amused Doyle no end to put Cowley at a disadvantage even though his manager was three jumps ahead of any theatre owner and he’d propelled Doyle further in the past two years than he otherwise would have gone. There was even talk of a very lucrative season in Las Vegas next year. Doyle considered it the best decision he’d ever made when he’d signed on with George Cowley – even if the cranky bastard did give him a hard time about displaying his body all the time. But why not flaunt it? Doyle knew he had a hot body – he’d been told often enough by the men and women who’d been lucky enough to get fucked by him.

“So where’s this bodyguard coming from?” Doyle affected a bored tone to hide his annoyance. As much as he liked irritating Cowley – the old bugger took far too much satisfaction whenever he’d managed to provoke Doyle into showing his own aggravation.

“He’s former SAS,” Cowley replied. “A brilliant soldier, very skilled in sniper techniques, hostage rescue, and siege breaking. He comes highly recommended by an old friend of mine, Major Fred Nairn.”

“If he’s so skilled, why’s he ‘former’ SAS? I’d think that mob wouldn’t be too keen to let a good one go.”

Cowley let the curtain fall and turned back to face Doyle. “He left the service after being caught in a compromising position.”

“Selling secrets to the Russians?” Doyle asked in amusement. “Although, if he’d done that, I suppose they would have thrown him into prison at the very least.”

“The military has a policy against certain types of behaviour,” Cowley said. “It’s not something I necessarily agree with – who a man chooses for his amorous liaisons has no bearing on his ability to be a damn fine soldier, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Who he…” Doyle trailed off as his mind put the pieces together, and then he leaned his head back against the couch and laughed long and loud. “Caught with his trousers down in the wrong bedroom, was he?” Doyle said when he managed to stop laughing.

Cowley glared at him. “Mr Bodie’s choice of bed partner has no bearing whatsoever on his ability to protect you and see that you come to no harm, Ray.”

“Is he good looking?” Doyle asked. “Might be worth having another nanny about if he’s half-decent looking and willing to present arse. Present arms… present arse – get it?” He cackled at his own wit.

“There are times, Raymond, when I find your ribaldry quite distasteful,” Cowley said with a frown. “Mr Bodie has been hired to protect you, not have sex with you. I would think you’d already have more than enough of that.”

“Never too much.” Doyle winked. “Get us another drink, Georgie. I don’t have to be at sound check for another two hours yet.”

“And Mr Bodie will be here within the hour,” Cowley said, although he got Doyle another drink. “Try to enjoy it like a fine malt whisky should be this time, will you?” He said as he passed Doyle the refilled glass.

“Just for you, Georgie.” Doyle lifted his glass in a toast to his manager before ostentatiously taking a tiny sip of the liquor. It was going to be very interesting to meet this bodyguard and see if he was worth fucking. If he wasn’t, Doyle planned to get rid of the bastard in very short order. SAS or not, he didn’t need a fucking bodyguard.

*
Sauntering out of his bedroom wearing nothing but a pair of tight, faded jeans, Ray combed his fingers through his damp hair, smirking at his manager’s sour look.

“Are you planning on meeting your bodyguard like that?” Cowley asked.

Doyle shrugged. “Why not? It’s not a date. If he’s going to be my sodding bodyguard, he’ll see me in a lot less.”

“He’s been hired as your bodyguard, not your manservant.”

“Manservant,” Doyle snickered. “How old-school of you, George. Going all prim and proper to impress the disgraced SAS soldier, are we?”

“He is not disgraced,” Cowley snapped. “Mr Bodie acquitted himself in exemplary manner while enlisted and has left the SAS with all honours and a commendation. He merely chose not to re-enlist when his term was up.”

“Well, that’s the official story at any rate.” Doyle grinned and winked at Cowley.

Before Cowley could respond, there was a sharp knock at the door and he glared at Doyle as he went to answer it, peering through the spyhole before opening the door.

The man who entered the room was tall, dark, and far too good-looking to be a soldier. In Doyle’s experience, soldiers were more like his crotchety manager – older, grim, and lacking any sense of humour whatsoever.

This man’s pink, kissable lips had a bit of a quirk to them, like he was ready to grin at the slightest provocation. He wore a light grey suit, but Doyle refrained from rolling his eyes at that conservative choice because he wore it very well indeed. The suit had obviously been tailored to fit and the blue tie he wore with it just highlighted the intense blue of his eyes.

Realizing that he was being studied just as intently, Doyle preened, spreading his arms along the back of the couch and positioning his legs so his crotch was displayed in blatant invitation.

The man – it had to be his new bodyguard from the way Cowley was greeting him, let his gaze flick over Doyle’s body, lifting one eyebrow in amusement and then, to Doyle’s chagrin, dismissing him.

Doyle glared at the far too handsome man, deciding in that instant that he hated him and would get rid of the bloody bastard in short order. Death threats or not, he wouldn’t have someone so disrespectful around him.

“Ray, this is Mr Bodie, your bodyguard.” Cowley interrupted Doyle’s plotting of just how he would get rid of the smug git. “Mr Bodie, Ray Doyle is the person you’ve been hired to protect.”

“Just Bodie,” the man in question said. He let his gaze roam insolently over Doyle’s half-naked body again. “You sure you can afford me?”

“What are you on about, man?” Cowley demanded.

Bodie gestured at Doyle. “Doesn’t seem as though warbling pays that well. He can’t even afford a shirt.”

Cowley didn’t bother to hide his amusement, watching Doyle sit up abruptly from his indolent sprawl on the couch.

“Let me reassure you, Bodie,” Cowley said with a chuckle. “In spite of his penchant for roaming around his hotel suite half-dressed, Ray is well able to afford your fee. You’ll start immediately, of course. Ray has sound check in less than an hour.”

“Why don’t you tell me what’s been happening to date – while ‘John Holmes’ here gets his gear back on.”

Doyle glared at Bodie but stalked off to finish getting dressed, indignation in every line of his body. But he couldn’t help but be secretly pleased at the oblique compliment to the size of his cock.

“The first contact was made by post,” Cowley said as Doyle left the room. “We assumed it was just someone who didn’t care for Ray’s music. The letters started out as merely abusive, describing Ray as a perverted exhibitionist with little musical ability and demanding that he stop performing immediately. I’m afraid we didn’t even bother saving those letters. Most performers get hate mail every so often and it never turns into anything more serious.”

Bodie nodded in acknowledgement.

“The letters turned threatening when it became apparent that Ray was not going to stop performing and indeed made no acknowledgement of having received the letters at all.”

“Threatening in what way?” Bodie asked.

“At first the threats were very general, stating that if Ray would not cease on his own, he would be forcibly stopped.” Cowley retrieved a file from his briefcase and placed it on the coffee table. Opening it, he picked out several letters and handed them to Bodie. “Ray was inclined to disregard these letters as well, but they troubled me, and I’m sure you’ll agree when you read them. This lunatic is not going to go away. I contacted the police and turned the original letters over to them.”

Bodie raised one eyebrow, glancing down at the letters in his hand and then back up at Cowley.

“Well of course I took copies of them first, man,” Cowley said impatiently. “I’m sure Major Nairn would have told you a bit of my background when he suggested the job to you.”

“Former military personnel, released for medical reasons after taking a bullet to the leg, utmost integrity, but you don’t trust most government agencies and you’re not a bad hand at investigation on your own,” Bodie said, a slight smile curving his lips. “So who do you think is sending these letters, Mr Cowley?”

“I’ve got no idea, laddie,” Cowley admitted. “They’ve all been done on a typewriter – the sort you can find in any of a thousand offices, and they’re postmarked London, so either he’s based in London, or he’s travelling into the city just to post the letters.”

“They’re still arriving?”

“Yes, but after the adder, anything that looks like it comes from the same man is handed directly to the police and they return anything that is not sent by him.”

“And how do you know it’s a him?”

“We don’t – not exactly. It’s been assumed that the person sending the letters is male, particularly after the adder arrived, but there’s really nothing that would preclude it from being a female who has decided Ray needs to retire from performing.” Cowley smiled cynically. “I will say, however, that I’ve not yet encountered a female who wasn’t completely smitten by Ray’s appearance. They’re more inclined to post him their knickers than a snake.”

“Tell me about the snake.”

“A parcel arrived three days ago,” Cowley said. “That in and of itself is not uncommon. As I said, quite a number of Ray’s fans send him articles of intimate apparel in the post. Ruth, poor girl, has the unenviable task of opening all of Ray’s post and sorting out the special letters for him to look at.”

“Who’s Ruth?” Bodie asked, reaching out to flick through the papers in the file still lying open on the coffee table.

“Ray’s personal assistant while on tour. She is the one who opened the parcel and before she fully realized what was in it, the adder had bitten her. We had to get someone from the RSPCA to remove the snake. Ruth had a very bad reaction to the bite and had to be taken to hospital. She’s recovering though and it’s expected she’ll be released and back at work next week, although it will be some time before she’s fully recovered.”

“Was that the only attack?”

“Perhaps not.” Cowley frowned thoughtfully. “There was an incident two weeks ago where Ray was almost hit by a car. It was only the fast reflexes of his driver, Liam Murphy, that saved him. We thought at the time it was nothing out of the ordinary – people are hit or almost hit by cars every day in London. But now I’m not so sure. Perhaps…”

“Could be,” Bodie agreed. “Could also be nothing more than a coincidence. What have the police said?”

“They’re taking the matter seriously, but they’ve made very little progress in finding the culprit. They had said until he actually did something, the most they could do would be charge him with making threats and he most likely wouldn’t even be sent to prison.” Cowley scowled in disgust. He gathered the papers back from Bodie and closed the file, returning it to his briefcase. “At any rate, that’s not your concern. You’ve been hired to protect Ray, so we’ll leave the detective work to others. Major Nairn has recommended you highly, Bodie, and I have full confidence in your ability to protect Ray, no matter what the threat.”

Chapter 2

Bodie looked out the rear window of the car as Murphy headed away from the venue. The concert had gone well with the hordes of adoring fans left sweaty and satisfied.

“Being chased by screaming groupies not willing to accept they can’t have me tonight, are we?” Doyle asked in amusement. He was a bit annoyed that the bloody bodyguard had refused to let him go off with any of the willing bed warmers waiting at the stage door, but as he planned to completely discredit the bastard by seducing him and making sure Cowley knew it, the annoyance had mostly been for show.

George would retire to his own room and then Doyle would set his plan in motion. With Bodie in his bed, the bodyguard would be in his pocket too and Doyle was certain he would be able to resume his usual practice of bedding whomever he wanted after a concert.

“Not likely,” Bodie snorted, his attention more focused outside the car than in. He was aware of Doyle – how could anyone not be. The man was sex on two legs and he didn’t have a half-bad singing voice either but Bodie was professional enough not to let it impact on the performance of the job he’d been hired to do. Sure, he’d like to fuck the hot little golly, but he didn’t mix business and pleasure, and Ray Doyle was very much business. “If they knew you, they’d be running in the other direction.”

“You scared them all off with your lowering glare.” Doyle pretended to pout. “I still think you’re being a bit over-zealous by not letting me spend a bit of time with Sheila.”

“It was Shirley,” Bodie corrected him dryly. “And I’m sure you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to bed the Shirleys and Sheilas – once the person threatening you is caught. It could even be Shirley…”

Doyle laughed, “The only thing threatening about Shirley would be if she’s wearing a girdle under her clothes to hide an extra two stone she’s carrying and it snaps free and hits me in the eye when she wiggles out of it.”

“You don’t know that,” Bodie insisted. “Here, can’t you slow down a bit? We’re not competing in the Grand Prix,” he directed at Murphy. The car careened around a corner, tires squealing in protest.

“I’m trying!” Murphy snapped. “There’s no brakes!”

“Fuck!” Bodie leaned between the front seats, peering out the windscreen. “There!” He pointed at a lane that veered off to the right. “There’s construction on the road down there, we can use the rough surface to slow us down a bit.” When Murphy nodded and headed toward the lane, Bodie turned his attention back to Doyle.

Doyle had his hand braced on the back of the front passenger seat and he watched Bodie intently, waiting to see whatever the man would do to get them out of the situation.

“Buggering hell! There’s a great sodding hole! Hang on!” Murphy wrenched the steering wheel and the car rose up on two wheels as he tried to avoid the hole in the road.

Bodie pulled Doyle closer and covered him with his body, determined to reduce the impact on the star when they inevitably crashed.

The car dropped a couple of feet and teetered on its side for several long moments before falling back onto all four wheels. There was silence in the car but for the pinging of distressed metal, and then Bodie sprang into action.

“Out! Out! Everyone out!” He pushed open the rear door on the driver’s side and dragged Doyle out with him. Murphy struggled for a moment with his door but was also able to win free and Bodie chivvied both Doyle and Murphy to move away from the vehicle as quickly as they could.

“What the hell?” Doyle demanded when they were back on the main road. “What’s all the rush for? Anyone of us could have been hurt.”

“You’d be a hell of a lot more than just hurt if the car blew up,” Bodie said, not the least bit repentant for dragging Doyle over the rubble-strewn ground.

“I am more than capable of assessing my surroundings and determining the level of danger present. I certainly don’t need you for that,” Doyle sneered. “I don’t think…”

Anything further he was going to say was interrupted by a loud explosion and the three of them looked back down the lane to see the car now engulfed in flames.

“Maybe you should try it sometime,” Bodie replied. “You okay, Murphy?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Murphy said, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Doyle?”

“What?” Doyle snapped, his attention focused on the burning car.

“Well, obviously you’re not hurt.”

“Fuck you, Bodie,” Doyle growled.

“I never mix pleasure with business,” Bodie replied flippantly. He took hold of Doyle’s arm again. “Come on, we need to find a phone box and let the authorities know – and arrange to be picked up.”

“I can walk on my own.” Doyle pulled free of Bodie’s grasp. “You and Murphy can stay here and wait for the police.”

“Not so fast, sunshine,” Bodie said, taking hold of Doyle’s arm again. “My job is to protect you, and that includes protecting you from yourself. The last thing you need right now is to be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.”

“That was no accident.”

“Stow it, Doyle. You’re staying right here with me and that’s the end of it. Murphy, do you see a phone box anywhere around here?”

“No, but there should be one around the shops, about half a mile back the way we came,” Murphy said.

“All right, you go call it in, assuming the locals haven’t already.” Bodie looked around, wondering why no one in any of the nearby houses had appeared at the sound of the blast. “Doyle and I will stay here and make sure no one goes near the car.”

Murphy nodded and headed off down the street at a trot without another word.

“Think you’re bloody King Farouk, don’t you?” Doyle glared at Bodie. “Just march in and assume everyone is going to do what you tell them to. I’m well able to take care of myself.”

“I’m sure you are.” Bodie’s expression gave the lie to his words. “But I was hired to protect you and that’s what I’m doing. In a dangerous situation you’ll do what I tell you without argument, is that clear? And for future reference, King Farouk was noted for his lavish lifestyle, not giving orders.”

“I don’t fucking need you around,” Doyle snarled, hands on his hips to keep from punching Bodie. Bloody know-it-all! Any king was known for tossing orders around in a high-handed manner.

“What’s the matter, Doyle,” Bodie drawled. “Feeling a bit threatened? Can’t take it when anyone’s immune to your rather dubious charms?”

“Don’t make me laugh. Me – threatened by you? That’s the best joke I’ve heard in months.” His anger draining away, Doyle snorted in derision. “You probably have to pay someone to fuck you.”

Bodie stepped closer, his chest brushing against Doyle’s. “When I sleep with someone, it’s through mutual desire, and I – never – bottom,” he said, his voice low and dangerous. He stared into Doyle’s eyes, lips curving into a seductive smile, and then he stepped away and his voice became relaxed and casual, “And I’ve never left a partner wanting – a feat I’m sure you couldn’t claim.”

“Cops are on their way,” Murphy said as he jogged up to them. “They’ve requested we stay here, but at a safe distance.”

“No shit,” Bodie replied, smirking at Doyle when the singer turned his back and walked a few feet away from him.

“What’s up with him?”

“He just doesn’t like having it pointed out that not everyone wants to sleep with him.”

Murphy snickered quietly. “Yeah, he doesn’t really like the answer no. You’ll be lucky if you last the week, mate. Our Raymond only barely tolerates the major saying no to him.”

“He wants to bed Cowley?” Bodie asked in amusement.

Turning his laugh into a cough so Doyle wouldn’t hear it, Murphy said, “Not a chance! Ray likes them young and nubile, whether they’re male or female – with flexible hips.” He mimed spreading legs with his hands. He grinned sheepishly as he admitted. “He’s not bad, but not something you’d want seconds of – probably just as well he doesn’t ever want another round either.”

A few feet away, Doyle kicked viciously at a clump of dirt. He wasn’t so far away that he couldn’t hear what Bodie and Murphy were saying and it infuriated him to be dismissed so flippantly. Murphy had proclaimed it the best night in the sack he’d ever had – two-faced lying bastard. It bothered Doyle that he didn’t know which declaration was the lie – what Murphy had told him, or what the bastard was now telling Bodie.

Liam Murphy could just fuck off – and after this incident with the car, Doyle felt he had a perfect excuse for sacking him. And if he thought he was going to get a good reference, well, Doyle would soon disabuse him of that notion!

*

They were barely back in the hotel suite when Doyle turned to Murphy and said “You’re fired.”

He was immediately countered by Bodie saying, “No you’re not.”

“I’m the one paying the bills here,” Doyle snapped. “And if I say he’s fired, no bloody half-baked bodyguard who can’t even do his own job is going to tell me otherwise!”

“You’re still alive, aren’t you?” Bodie said with an infuriating grin. “The only reason you’re still alive is because of Murphy’s driving skills and my quick assessment of the situation and prompt resultant action.”

“The situation would have never occurred if Murphy’d been doing his job properly!”

Bodie shook his head. “I saw where he had to park the car. He would have needed x-ray vision and eyes in his arse to make sure no one could get to it.”

“It doesn’t matter…”

“It bloody does matter!” Bodie roared. “You expect to be protected but you go out of your way to make it damn near impossible! I know why that nutter is trying to kill you – it’s because you’re an overbearing, obnoxious, know-it-all pillock!”

“Overbearing? Ha! You wrote the book on that! And there’s only one pillock in this room and it’s not me!”

“No one’s trying to kill me, sunshine, and there’s a bloke out there who’s got it in for you.”

“How do you know it’s a bloke?” Doyle asked suspiciously. “For all I know, you’re working with the lunatic and you’re just here, biding your time, waiting for the opportune moment…”

“Oh, for the love of… If I wanted you dead, Doyle, you would already be dead,” Bodie said, his voice grim with certainty. “You’re a petulant, spoiled brat well in need of a spanking, but you’re not worth the effort it would take to kill you. As for how I know the suspect is male…” Bodie smiled nastily. “The preferred method of murder for females is poison. If it was a bird that wanted you dead – they’d have poisoned you already.”

Cowley entered the room from further in the suite. “I’ve just been talking to Inspector Davidson. They won’t know until tomorrow what caused the accident, or even if it was an accident. They’ll want to speak to you again in the morning, Murphy, so I suggest you get some rest now. You’ll have to speak to the police before you pick up the new car – and I believe you have a few other errands before we leave for Preston.”

“He can’t,” Bodie said with a devilish glint in his eye before Murphy could respond. “Doyle sacked him.”

Casting an exasperated glare at Doyle, Cowley said, “And I’m rehiring you, Murphy. Go get some sleep and make sure you’re ready to leave by noon.”

Murphy nodded and quickly left the room.

“Through his irresponsible, slack inattention to his job I was almost killed and you tell him he’s not fired?” Doyle was incensed at the complete disregard for what he wanted. “Might I remind you that without me – you’re fucked. You won’t be so blasé if there’s no more money coming in, will you?”

“I do manage other performers besides you, Ray,” Cowley said calmly, adding a quiet, “Thank the good lord.”

Doyle sputtered indignantly and then stomped off to his bedroom, slamming the door behind him.

“Rat-tempered little golly, isn’t he?” Bodie commented with a laugh.

Cowley chuckled, “If we could harness that energy in some way, we would be well ahead of the game.”

“He doesn’t need a bodyguard, he needs a minder – someone to make him pull his head out of his arse and stop throwing his toys out of the pram when things don’t go his way.”

“Are you applying for the position?”

“I’ve got too much sense for that,” Bodie countered flippantly, but his gaze strayed to Doyle’s bedroom door and his expression turned thoughtful. Almost visibly shaking off whatever his thoughts were, Bodie said, “I’ll go get my kit and be back at seven.”

Cowley shook his head. “The entertainment industry runs to a different schedule than the SAS, laddie. We’ll not be leaving before noon.”

“I’ll still be back at seven,” Bodie replied, and then he grinned mischievously. “Perhaps I’ll drag Doyle out for a run before we leave.”

“You’ll have a job just getting him out of bed in time to depart,” Cowley laughed. He handed a key to Bodie. “When you come in, try to be quiet.”

Chapter 3

Opening the door of the hotel suite quietly, Bodie was surprised to see George Cowley sitting at the table drinking a cup of tea as he read over a sheet of paper.

“You’re up early,” Bodie said as he closed the door and set his kit bag down beside it.

Cowley smiled. “It’s an old habit from my army days, lad. I enjoy the early morning quiet—it gives me a chance to catch up on my paperwork without interruption.”

“I’ll leave you to it then,” Bodie said.

“I’ve finished,” Cowley replied. “I was waiting for you to arrive.” He handed Bodie a file folder. “Inside you’ll find the tour itinerary and a list of all the people on the tour and their position as well as a bit of background information for each.”

“Thanks.” Bodie accepted the folder, opening it to have a quick flick through the sheets. “Information on Doyle in here too?”

“Naturally,” Cowley smiled. “Better to know all the beasts you’re dealing with.”

“If you think so little of Doyle, why do you stay with him?”

Cowley shook his head. “I don’t think poorly of Ray. He’s a very intelligent man with a delightful singing voice. He’s just lost his way a little. I have faith that he will find his footing again and will mature into the considerate and gracious consummate performer I know he has it in him to be.”

“The foul-tempered little bastard needs someone to pound some sense into him.”

“It’s been tried,” Cowley said dryly. “I know you’ve noticed his cheek.”

Bodie nodded in acknowledgement.

“Ray woke up in hospital with no recollection of what happened, but I am certain it was inflicted by someone who took offense at his words and decided to use physical force as their argument.”

“I bet there’s only one thing that’d shut him up,” Bodie grinned.

Cowley stared at Bodie for a moment and then shook his head. “I do believe you might be the one person with the brass enough to attempt to shut Ray up without physically harming him. And I am very certain that I do not want to hear about it.”

Bodie snickered. “Don’t worry, Major, I never kiss and tell.”

“It’s Cowley, lad. I left the army behind me a long time ago.”

“Not to hear Major Nairn talk about you.”

“Freddie never was very good at letting go of the past,” Cowley said as he gathered his papers together and stood up. “I’ll be off to my meeting now, lad. I should be back by eleven. Don’t worry about waking Ray before then.”

“I won’t worry,” Bodie said breezily, grinning cheerfully when Cowley gave him a hard look.

*

Bodie tossed the folder Cowley had given him onto the coffee table and stood up. Glancing at his watch, he decided nine o’clock was long enough for Doyle to sleep. Picking up his duffle bag, he tossed it onto the table, grinning wickedly at the loud clunk it made.

Whistling cheerfully, he opened the bag and began rummaging around inside. Glancing up at Doyle’s bedroom door, Bodie frowned thoughtfully when there was no immediate response. He pulled a boot from the bag and held it at shoulder height over the table, letting go with a gleeful grin. “Oops. Slipped out of my hand,” he said to the empty room.

The bedroom door was flung open and Doyle clung to the doorframe, glaring at Bodie. “What the fuck is going on?”

Bodie smirked, letting his gaze travel appreciatively over Doyle, from the top of his head with the disarrayed tousle of curls, flattened on one side from sleeping. His gaze travelled down over Doyle’s bare chest and then slipped lower to take in the sight of the very skimpy, purple bikini briefs that were the only article of clothing protecting Doyle’s modesty – not that Bodie really entertained the notion that Doyle had any modesty.

He could imagine all too well the weight of Doyle’s cock and balls in his hand, and what the hairy chest would feel like pressing against his own virtually hairless chest.

“Well?” Doyle demanded, interrupting Bodie’s musing on what it would take to make Doyle scream with pleasure.

“Oh, were you still sleeping?” Bodie asked innocently. He made a big show of checking his watch. “I thought only babies and the elderly slept past nine.”

“Fuck you,” Doyle snapped. “I was up until two.”

“I know,” Bodie agreed blithely. “I was here. I got back to my digs at two-thirty –” He paused for effect. “And I was back here promptly at seven.”

“Hurrah for you,” Doyle said sourly, pushing himself away from the doorframe. “I’m going back to bed. Keep the noise down or I’ll clout you.”

“You can try but you’re already awake now,” Bodie said reasonably. “You might as well get up. I want to talk to you anyhow.” He followed Doyle into the bedroom before the singer could close the door.

“Get the hell out of here,” Doyle snarled. “I’m going to sleep. If you want me to fuck you, you’re going to have to wait until we get to Preston.”

“In your dreams, sunshine,” Bodie laughed. He pushed Doyle aside and sat on the bed, stretching his legs out, hands behind his head as he leaned against the headboard, smiling ingenuously at Doyle. “Cowley’s gone out; you can fill me in about everyone while you’re getting dressed.”

Doyle glared at Bodie. “Get the hell out of my bedroom.” Without waiting for Bodie’s response, he stomped off to the shower.

When Doyle emerged from the bathroom, towel wrapped around his waist, Bodie was still sitting on his bed, only now he had a file folder and was flicking through the papers it contained.

“I thought I told you to get out of my room?”

“You did,” Bodie said. “How long has George Cowley been your manager?”

“Three years, not that that’s any of your business.” Doyle turned his back on Bodie as he started getting dressed.

Knowing Doyle couldn’t see him, Bodie stared with appreciation at Doyle’s naked arse. The man might be an obnoxious sod, but he had a lean, muscular, utterly gorgeous body and Bodie was more than happy to take the chance to admire it. Keeping his voice level and revealing none of his attraction to Doyle, Bodie continued, “He’s got a limp. Has he always had that?”

“Ever since I’ve known him.”

“What happened?”

“How the hell should I know?” Doyle grabbed a t-shirt and pulled it on, turning to face Bodie as he tucked it into his jeans and zipped them up.

“Did you even ask?”

“Why would I do that? Do you suppose I really care why he has a limp? It’s got nothing to do with his ability to be my manager.”

“Is he married?”

Doyle shrugged indifferently. “Not that I’m aware. I’ve never seen a Mrs Cowley.”

“So, you’ve signed on with someone, giving them quite a bit of control over your life, and you know nothing at all about him?” Bodie asked, his scorn for Doyle’s insouciance evident in his voice.

“I know he’s a sneaky bastard capable of screwing the very best deal from any concert promoter or record company. That’s good enough for me.” Doyle stuffed his feet into his boots and grabbed his sunglasses. “Here, are you going to lounge around on my bed all morning? If you’re making me get up, I want breakfast.”

“Aren’t you going to pack your gear first?” Bodie asked.

Doyle looked at Bodie like he was insane. “Ruth handles that.”

“Isn’t she still in hospital?”

“Then George will take care of it,” Doyle replied casually as though it were a common occurrence for his manager to pack his suitcases for him. “I’m going to get breakfast.”

“All right,” Bodie agreed easily, gathering his papers together into the folder and standing up. “I can ask you about the rest of the crew while you’re eating.” Cowley’s file contained a great deal of information on everyone close to Doyle, but Bodie wanted to find out how much Doyle knew about his crew—and what his thoughts were about each of them.

“That’s a good way to get indigestion,” Doyle remarked sourly.

Bodie just grinned. He checked the corridor through the spyhole before opening the hotel room door and gesturing grandly for Doyle to precede him.

“Tell me about Ruth,” Bodie prompted when they were in the lift heading down to the hotel restaurant.

“What’s to tell?” Doyle shrugged. “George brought her along on the tour to do all the shitty little jobs he was sick of doing.”

“Might there be another reason he brought her along?”

“Like what?” Doyle looked at Bodie in mystification, and then realization dawned and he laughed. “I don’t think old George has a sex drive.”

“So, what’s Ruth like?”

Doyle shrugged again. “Blonde, pretty – bit of an ice maiden really. She didn’t even scream when the snake bit her. I wouldn’t fancy that in my bed, probably get frostbite on my todger.”

The lift doors opened and Doyle rolled his eyes as Bodie refused to let him out of the lift until he’d checked there were no suspicious strangers lurking about.

“Liam Murphy is your driver,” Bodie continued as they entered the restaurant and were immediately shown to a table.

“For now,” Doyle agreed darkly.

“You have a problem with Murph?”

“Aside from the fact that his incompetence almost got me killed?” Doyle demanded in outrage. “I think that’s enough, don’t you?”

Bodie shook his head. “It was only Murphy’s skill at driving that saved it from being worse. It’s not easy to stop a car with no brakes—without a brick wall for assistance.”

Doyle snorted derisively as he scanned the menu.

Waiting until Doyle had ordered his breakfast, Bodie started in again as soon as Doyle had taken his first sip of coffee. “What else do you know about Murphy?”

“What do I need to know?” Doyle asked around a mouthful of food. “He drives my car.” A wicked look crossed his face. “And he’s a bit of a stick in bed.”

Bodie rolled his eyes. “Do you ever not think about sex?”

“No.” Doyle smirked. “If you got it, flaunt it, baby,” he said in an exaggerated American accent.

“According to this list, Geoff Anson is your head roadie,” Bodie said, giving no acknowledgement of Doyle’s leer. “Is that the same Geoff Anson who was the Navy middle-weight boxing champ three years running ’69 to ‘71?”

“No idea,” Doyle replied. “Don’t give a toss what Anson did before he started working for me.”

Bodie made a note on the papers he’d brought from the suite. “Did you sleep with him too?”

Doyle wrinkled his nose in distaste. “No, I did not. He smokes like a bloody chimney.”

“What does a head roadie do?”

“Makes sure the gear gets from gig to gig, gets set up properly, organizes the rest of the crew…” Doyle shrugged.

“Do you know how to set up for a show?” Bodie asked.

“Course I do,” Doyle said with a grin. “Hire a roadie crew to set up the equipment and make sure they know how much room I need to move about on stage.”

“I’m betting you haven’t even got a clue who Trent, Dave, Phil, Roger, Pete, Stuart, John, and Mick are, do you?”

“Mick’s the sound tech, Dave’s lighting,” Doyle replied. “The rest of them are roadies—they’re Anson’s problem, not mine.”

“What about your band?”

“What about them?”

“Frank Brier, Nick Mantini, Benny Franco, and Alistair Peabody—what are they like?”

Doyle shrugged. “They’re the band. They play well.”

“They’re your band, and you don’t know anything about them? Haven’t you worked together to get where you are?”

“Not likely.” Doyle laughed. “Alli’s the only one who’s been with me from the outset. The rest have only been playing with me for the past couple of years – except for Benny – he’s only been with us six months. He signed on when Dickie Bird died of a drug overdose.”

“I’d do drugs with a name like that too,” Bodie muttered as he jotted notes in the file. “So, you don’t know anything about your band other than what instrument they play?”

“Christ, what the hell do I look like—leader of the lonely hearts club?” Doyle snapped. “As long as they do what they’re contracted to, I don’t give a toss what else they’re interested in or who they’re fucking.”

“Alistair must be a glutton for punishment, sticking with you for so long.”

“Fuck off, Bodie! I don’t need you to come in here and insult me; George does enough of that!”

“Have you ever stopped to consider that any one of your band or crew could be the assassin?”

“You what?” Doyle stared at Bodie, and then he laughed. “You don’t know a damn thing about the music industry, do you? If they don’t like working for me, they can just fuck off, they don’t have to kill me.”

“Maybe leaving isn’t enough,” Bodie said seriously. “Maybe they want a bit of revenge for your ignorant, inconsiderate behaviour?”

Doyle laughed and shook his head. “There’s worse than me in this industry, sunshine.” He stood up to leave with Bodie following closely behind him. With Bodie’s eyes no longer on him, the smile slipped from Doyle’s face and his expression turned pensive. Could Bodie be right and one of the crew really was trying to kill him?

 

Chapter 4

“Oh, Ruth, you’re back, good. There’s a button missing from my blue silk shirt and I want my white trousers for tomorrow,” Doyle said as he and Bodie entered the hotel suite and saw Ruth sitting talking to Cowley. Her hand was heavily bandaged and in a sling; it was apparent her hand was still very swollen.

“That’s all you’ve got to say?” Bodie demanded. “Ruth took a hit meant for you – and damn near died of it and all you can say when she comes back is – fix my clothes? You really are an insufferable arse.”

“Fuck you,” Doyle said, annoyed at Bodie’s words. “Ruth was just doing her job – am I supposed to elevate her to sainthood for that?”

“No, you’re supposed to have some compassion and a shred of decency when someone is unjustly injured in the performance of their duties – catering to your demanding, selfish little arse,” Bodie said. His hands on his hips, he glared at Doyle. “Just because you can warble a tune and manage to stay on key, doesn’t make you any better or more important than anyone else. You keep treating the people working for you like they’re worthless scum and maybe next time they’ll step aside and let you take the hit!”

“Who knew the SAS bred sanctimonious arseholes?” Doyle sniped.

“It’s not sanctimony, it’s common decency and respect for your fellow man.”

Doyle rolled his eyes and deliberately turned away from Bodie, focusing his attention on Ruth. “I am very glad you are back, Ruthie, and I do hope your hand is not hurting too badly. I can make do with the grey trousers if the white aren’t back from the cleaners yet.”

“Thank you, Mr Doyle,” Ruth said with a smile. “I’m feeling much better now. I’ll contact the dry cleaner’s and have your trousers sent by courier so they’ll be here for tomorrow. While I was in hospital I arranged to have flowers sent to your parents for their anniversary on Saturday, and made arrangements for a hairdresser to come and cut your hair tomorrow morning at eleven.”

“Good,” Doyle said. “I’ve missed you taking care of all these annoying details. Make a reservation for four at Alberto’s for seven p.m., will you?” He looked over his shoulder to glare at Bodie who smirked back at him. “I’m apparently going to be stuck with the smug prat George thinks is a bodyguard, so I suppose you’d better include him too.”

Ruth nodded and opened her notebook, jotting down Doyle’s instructions. She flashed Bodie a grateful smile when he moved to steady the book so it wouldn’t shift about while she was writing.

Ignoring Bodie and Cowley completely, Doyle went into his bedroom and closed the door.

“Any news from the coppers?” Bodie asked.

Cowley looked up from the papers he’d been working on and took his glasses off. “The brakes on the car were definitely tampered with, but it appears the explosion was just an accident. There were no traces of explosives found in the wreckage. Unfortunately they’re no closer to working out who is responsible. The villain is very good at hiding his tracks.”

“Bloody useless lot,” Bodie muttered.

“The police have their uses, laddie,” Cowley said reprovingly.

“Major Nairn said you were very sharp, so who do you think is responsible?”

“Freddie remembers me before civilian life dulled my edge,” Cowley replied with a smile and slight shake of his head. Bodie snorted in disbelief and Cowley chuckled. “Aye, all right, they’re not all that dulled. I do have thoughts on the matter – which I have shared with the police working on this case. I believe it is someone Ray has offended in the past year…”

“Oh, well, that narrows it down to what—only several hundred thousand?” Bodie said dryly.

Ruth giggled, and Bodie winked at her.

“What would you do if you wanted to kill someone, Ruth?” Bodie asked suddenly.

“Me?” Ruth looked startled. After thinking for a moment, she said, “I suppose I would try to poison the person I was trying to kill by putting something into their drink – I would also make sure the poison was something difficult to detect, and could in no way be traced back to me. But I’m not trying to kill Mr Doyle.”

Bodie grinned. “If you were going to kill Doyle, he’d already be in the ground.”

“I usually do succeed in what I attempt,” Ruth said primly, laughter sparkling in her eyes.

Bodie snickered and Cowley chuckled and shook his head. “I believe the criminal is male,” Cowley said. “The attempts to harm Ray have been made using methods that are generally the domain of men – to date he’s tried running Ray over, sending him an adder in the post, and most recently tampering with the brakes on his car. No offence to you Ruth, but I do not think a woman would go to that sort of effort. I would expect a woman’s attempts to be either poisoning or shooting.”

“Women are smarter than to expect they’d get away with running someone over with a car. And they’re far more subtle than to try something so blatant,” Ruth agreed. “For the same reason, I don’t think a woman would attempt to shoot the person they want to kill either – unless they do it in a fit of rage.”

“Next time I want to kill someone, I’m coming to you for advice,” Bodie said.

Ruth laughed. “Depending on who it is you want to kill, I might just help you out too.”

“I did not hear that at all,” Cowley said with a smile as he stood up. “I’m off to my meeting with the promoter. Don’t try to do too much, Ruth – no matter what that idi—Ray demands. You’re still recovering and we don’t want you ending up back in hospital.”

“Yes, sir,” Ruth replied.

Bodie remained silent until Cowley had left the suite, then he held his hand out to Ruth. “No one has seen fit to introduce us. I’m Bodie, and I’ve been hired to protect Doyle’s annoying arse.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr Bodie.” Ruth shook Bodie’s hand and he was pleasantly surprised at the firmness of her handshake. “And he can be rather challenging sometimes, that’s true.”

“Just, Bodie, sweetheart,” Bodie said with a wink. “What’s a pretty girl like you doing working for a cretin like Doyle?”

Ruth smiled and shook her head. “Mr Doyle has a lot of pressure on him. It can’t be easy to know that every time you go out, you run the risk of having a wall of screaming fans crowding around you, all trying to undress you.”

“I can’t imagine that’d bother him too much,” Bodie snorted. “He’s quite the exhibitionist.”

“Well, he does have a very nice body.”

“Don’t say that in his hearing, he’ll be even more insufferable than usual.”

“He…” Ruth hesitated. “Bodie, Mr Doyle wasn’t always like this. When I first started with Mr Cowley, Mr Doyle was very kind and didn’t want to put anyone to too much trouble. It’s only since he made that trip to America that he’s been rather…”

“Obnoxious? Unbearable? Insufferable?”

“All of the above,” Ruth laughed.

“With a pretty girl like you working for him, he should be satisfied just to have your smiling face around to brighten up his day.”

“Oh, pish.” Ruth waved her hand dismissively. “I bet you say that to all the girls.”

“Only the pretty ones.” Bodie winked. “So why doesn’t someone as lovely as you have at least a dozen suitors banging on your door, ready to whisk you away from the stroppy little golly?”

“What makes you think there aren’t?” Ruth asked archly.

Bodie grinned. “Because you wouldn’t still be here. I can’t imagine anyone choosing to stay with grumpy guts there rather than go off with a man who’ll treat them like a princess.”

“Are you applying for the position?”

“Much as I would like to, I’m afraid not.” Bodie sighed mournfully. “It’s my sad lot in life to be attracted to a different – hairier sort. But I would definitely whisk you away from here if you were that sort.”

“You’re very sweet, Bodie.” Ruth smiled. “To be honest, it’s lovely to enjoy a bit of flirting, knowing that there will be no expectation of anything more. I like to flirt, but I do have a boyfriend.”

“So why are you still here?” Bodie asked. “And how does your boyfriend take to you flirting with other blokes.”

“I’d like to see him try to stop me,” Ruth said in amusement. “But to answer both your questions, I’ve only just starting dating him. Apparently it took me being bitten by the ruddy snake for Liam to realize that he should at least ask if I were interested in going out with him.”

“Liam?”

“Murphy,” Ruth replied with a shake of her head. “I really don’t know why you men insist on calling each other only by your last names.”

“It shows how tough we are,” Bodie said with a grin and a wink.

“As if you need help with that; why, a person only has to look at you to know that you can handle anything life throws at you,” Ruth laughed. “But that is why I am still here. I would rather be where I can at least see Liam for a while each day rather than only see him every couple of months.”

“You’re not only pretty, you’re smart too!”

“Smart enough to realize that you’re having an effect on Mr Doyle. Mr Cowley was telling me about you joining our merry group when you and Mr Doyle arrived. For all that you haven’t even been here a week, you’re having a very good impact on Mr Doyle’s behaviour, Bodie. A week ago, he never would have even mentioned the injury at all, just bombarded me with all the things I didn’t do while I was ‘away’.”

“If that’s an improvement on his behaviour, I’m surprised there’s only one person trying to kill him,” Bodie said dryly.

“Mr Doyle has been behaving like a cranky bear just woken up after winter,” Ruth sighed in agreement. “I do hope you can make him human again, Bodie. Underneath that obnoxious exterior, he really is a lovely man – or at least he was.”

“I’ll give it my best shot, Ruthie,” Bodie said solemnly.

*
Doyle quietly closed the bedroom door and rested his head against it. It annoyed him to hear people he was paying discuss him in such a derogatory way, but if he was to be honest with himself, he had to admit there was more than a grain of truth to what was said. There was a time when he would have been more concerned about Ruth’s well-being than whether or not he would have the trousers he wanted ready to wear.

He knew better than to believe all that was written about him too, but he still let it get to him, and maybe it made him a little unlikable. But he knew he had a good body, and he didn’t think there was anything wrong with showing it off.

It surprised him that he hadn’t noticed the attraction between Murphy and Ruth – but that could certainly be an explanation for why Murphy felt he had to bad-mouth his time in Doyle’s bed. It wasn’t his performance at all – it was only Murphy trying to convince himself that Ruth was everything he wanted.

Doyle snorted quietly at that. Ruth was pretty enough, but she was all show and no action, and she’d never even taken notice of any of the opportunities Doyle had given her to spend a night in his bed. He wished Murphy luck with getting any satisfaction from her – she probably wouldn’t know what to do and would spend the night crying at the mere sight of Murphy’s cock.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt at all to make an effort to be a bit kinder – at least to the people who worked for him. Completely ignoring the fact that if it weren’t for wanting to impress Bodie he wouldn’t be at all concerned with how anyone perceived him, Doyle decided he’d go easy on Ruth at least until she was fully recovered from the snake bite.

Happy that he’d resolved that issue to his satisfaction, Doyle turned his focus to Bodie. The bloody bastard was far too cocky for someone who’d pretty much been kicked out of the SAS for being queer. He should be pathetically grateful for any sort of work he could get – not walking around like a smug git who thought he knew more than everyone else.

It didn’t help any that he was bloody gorgeous too. Doyle sighed and moved away from the door to flop onto the bed. Bloody Bodie. Tall, dark, and utterly beautiful. A man could get lost in those blue eyes, and just the thought of those lips… It was just a shame the bastard was so arrogant and obnoxious. Still, he wasn’t interested in the former SAS for his personality. Once he’d fucked Bodie, Doyle was certain he wouldn’t care at all what the bastard thought of him. Not one bit.

Chapter 5

Doyle put his sunglasses on as he stepped out into Fishergate Road. A bit of shopping was just what he needed to take his mind off things – although it would probably work better to distract him from Bodie if the damn bodyguard wasn’t right there with him. It was annoying too that Bodie wouldn’t let himself be turned into a general lackey good for little more than carrying bags.

Yeah, maybe it had been Bodie’s quick action that had prevented the incident with the brakes becoming more serious, or even deadly, but that didn’t mean Doyle had to worship at his feet.

The sound of squealing tires and a revving motor intruded on Doyle’s thoughts and he looked up, freezing in horror when he saw a car heading straight for him. A hard mass slammed into him from behind and Doyle was propelled across the road and into the mouth of a narrow alley almost before he could take a breath.

Not slowing down in the least, the car roared past, right over the spot Doyle had been standing a moment ago.

“Are you okay?” Bodie demanded, forcing Doyle to look at him.

The bags holding his purchases falling from nerveless fingers, Doyle tipped his face up a fraction to look into Bodie’s eyes. “I could have been killed.”

“But you weren’t.”

“That car was coming straight for me.”

“You were standing in the middle of the road like a nanny goat.”

“It was aiming right for me.” Doyle leaned back against the wall, his legs suddenly too weak to support him as the realization that someone really did want to kill him sank in.

“Yeah, it was,” Bodie agreed. “Someone is trying to kill you, Ray. He’s not going to give up until he succeeds, or the police catch him.”

“I need a drink,” Doyle replied, barely registering that Bodie had used his given name for the first time. What he really wanted was to throw up and then go back to the hotel and hide under the blankets in bed. He was struggling with the realization that someone hated him enough to want him dead.

Bodie picked up the bags of shopping and put his arm around Doyle’s shoulders. “Come on, sunshine, there’s a pub just around the corner.”

Still too shocked by the near miss to react to Bodie’s proprietary touch, Doyle meekly allowed him to guide him out of the alley and to the pub.

*
“Let me check first before we leave,” Bodie said, grabbing hold of Doyle’s arm to stop him from opening the pub door.

“I hardly think the villain is going to hang around and have another go.” Doyle rolled his eyes and pulled his arm free of Bodie’s grasp, wishing the mere touch of Bodie’s hand on his bare arm didn’t make his groin tighten and his legs tremble.

“With a lunatic on the loose – trying to kill you, you can’t be too careful. Besides, he might be counting on you thinking that.”

“I won’t walk onto the road until you tell me it’s safe, Mum,” Doyle sniped. He pulled the door open and walked out of the pub before Bodie could stop him.

“It’s more than just watching for cars,” Bodie said, hurrying after Doyle.

The sound of a gunshot sent the bags of shopping flying in all directions as Bodie tackled Doyle, bringing him to the ground as more shots were fired. Dragging him to the scant protection of the signboard on the pavement and lying almost on top of Doyle, Bodie drew his gun, cautiously lifting his head to search out their attacker.

There’d been a few screams when the shots were fired, but all was quiet now. Innocent bystanders were either hiding in the shops or cowering behind rubbish bins and post boxes, too frightened to move.

“Stay down,” Bodie commanded, slowly lifting himself off Doyle into a crouch, constantly scanning the area for the shooter. Cautiously he stood up, but there was no reaction from the person who had shot at them, so he was either long gone, or waiting for Doyle to stand up so he could get another shot at him. “Are you okay?”

“No,” Doyle groaned. “The bastard shot me!”

“You’re hit? Where?” Bodie demanded.

“Fucking arm,” Doyle gasped, rolling a little so he could grab the injury, blood seeping over his fingers.

Bodie dropped to his knees beside Doyle, thrusting his gun into the waistband of his trousers. “Give us a look.” He tore the sleeve of Doyle’s shirt open. “It’s just a graze – you’ll live to shop another day.”

“You wouldn’t say that if it’d been you that was shot,” Doyle muttered darkly and Bodie snickered.

“I’ve been shot more than once in the line of duty, sunshine, and it was a hell of a lot more serious than that little scrape.”

The sound of sirens got closer and Bodie resigned himself to being interrogated about what had happened before he’d be able to get Doyle’s injury taken care of. At least it wasn’t life-threatening, and wouldn’t prevent Doyle from singing. By now Bodie knew Cowley would have his balls if any of the shows had to be cancelled through his failure to protect Doyle.

In the end, it was Doyle throwing a hissy fit about who he was and how he felt he should be treated that finally saw them given permission to leave for the hospital. It probably didn’t hurt any that Bodie had given the responding officers the name of the investigator in London working on the attempts on Doyle’s life, but that had been more along the lines of appeasing the Preston constabulary after Doyle had offended every one of them within earshot.

Doyle settled into the passenger seat of the car, his right hand still holding his injured arm, although Bodie had managed a makeshift bandage so the blood wasn’t still dripping. “Don’t forget my shopping.”

“You’re worse than a bird.” Bodie rolled his eyes. “Your shopping is in the boot, Miss Harrod.”

“My trousers are ruined, my shirt is destroyed, and I’m bloody injured,” Doyle groused as Bodie slid behind the wheel. “Some bloody bodyguard you are.”

“I’m not guarding your clothes,” Bodie replied as he headed towards the closest hospital.

“I’m wearing the sodding clothes!” Doyle snapped, turning in his seat to face Bodie. He hissed with pain when he jostled his arm. “You’re a piss-poor bodyguard.”

“You’re not dead yet,” Bodie said with a grim expression on his face. “If you’d listened to me, you wouldn’t have even been hurt.”

“Oh, you think if you’d looked out the door of the pub first the bastard wouldn’t have shot me? We were both outside and heading for the car when the first shot was fired.”

“If you’d listened to me in the first place, we wouldn’t have been there at all! I told you it wasn’t a good idea to go shopping, but being the arrogant, selfish prat you are, you insisted on it. Let me tell you something, Doyle,” Bodie growled, darting angry glances at his charge. “You might fancy yourself as better than Tom Jones, but he doesn’t go out in public with only one bodyguard and you sure as hell wouldn’t find him arguing about the measures taken to keep him safe!”

“And you know this because you’re friends with Tom Jones, are you?” Doyle sneered. “You don’t have any idea what he does.”

Bodie turned to look at Doyle, his smile wicked and dangerous. “I’ve worked with his security team in the past. Mr Jones listens to the experts he pays to keep him safe.”

Doyle scowled and turned away, focusing his attention out the side window, not willing to admit that perhaps Bodie was right about going shopping with very little protection. Aside from the danger of the deranged lunatic trying to kill him, he could have been mobbed by fans and he didn’t think Bodie would be able to stop a horde of screaming women all wanting a piece of him.

At the hospital, to his smug satisfaction, Doyle was quickly ushered into a private room. Bodie completely ignored all attempts by the staff to get him to leave Doyle’s side and Doyle eventually just rolled his eyes and told them to pay no attention to the bodyguard.

His arms crossed over his chest, Bodie leaned against the wall, watching as the doctor assessed Doyle’s injury, cleaned it, and bandaged it. It hadn’t even been bad enough to require stitches.

“You see that?” Doyle was very quick to turn the minor injury into a dig at Bodie’s abilities. “I shouldn’t have even been hit. Your reflexes are too slow to guard a really famous singer.”

“That’s why I’m guarding you,” Bodie said with a taunting smile. “Your Mr Cowley seems to think I’m quick enough to protect you. Obviously he’s never tried to make you do something when you’re determined not to. You’d argue with the devil.”

“I would not!”

Bodie raised one eyebrow in disbelieving amusement. “Point to my side, I believe.”

“Sod off,” Doyle muttered.

“There’s not a damn thing wrong with my reflexes, Doyle,” Bodie continued. “You need to learn to shut up and not argue just for the sake of arguing.”

“There you are, Mr Doyle,” the doctor said as he finished up. “Keep the bandage dry, and make sure you change it daily while the wound is healing. You shouldn’t need anything more than regular painkillers you can get from any chemist. If you notice any redness of the skin, pus discharging from the wound, or you become feverish, please do come back.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Bodie replied. “I’ll make sure he takes proper care of the injury.”

The doctor looked Bodie up and down, as though assessing him. He nodded once, acknowledging his confidence that Bodie would be able to take care of Doyle’s injury. Turning his attention back to Doyle, he said, “I suggest you take it easy for the next couple of days, let your body recover from the shock of being shot.”

Bodie grinned as the doctor left them alone.

Doyle glared at him, and then looked down at his clothes. His shirt had been ruined beyond wearing and his trousers were torn and snagged from being dragged along the pavement by Bodie. “What the hell am I supposed to wear now?”

“You like walking around with no shirt on,” Bodie laughed. “What’s the problem?”

Doyle kicked out at him, crossing his arms over his chest petulantly. “I don’t walk around the streets with no shirt on. And if you think I’m going to take the risk of having fans see me and chase after me when I’m too injured to defend myself…”

“Keep your hair on,” Bodie said over the top of Doyle’s angry words. “Stay right here.” He pointed at Doyle who growled at him. “I’ll go out to the car and get something from the dozen or so items you bought today.”

“Hurry up,” Doyle snapped as Bodie left the room.

*
“Wait,” Bodie commanded when Doyle would have walked out of the hospital doors.

“It’s my arm that’s injured, not my legs,” Doyle said with an exasperated sigh.

“It’ll be your head that’s injured in a minute,” Bodie threatened. “For Christ’s sake, Doyle, why can’t you just shut up and do as you’re told for once? Just bloody well wait here while I go and get the car. In case it’s slipped your mind, the would-be killer is still at large.” Without waiting for Doyle’s response, Bodie strode off to collect the car.

Settled in the car, Doyle glared at Bodie, and then looked away. “I don’t like taking orders,” he muttered softly.

“You what?” Bodie stared at Doyle in surprise, and then he started to laugh.

“Fuck off.” Doyle hissed with pain when he tried to cross his arms over his chest and inadvertently bumped his wound.

Still shaking his head in amusement, Bodie said, “You’d never last a minute in the army.”

“You couldn’t pay me to join the army,” Doyle replied.

“Randy little bugger like you, they’d probably toss you out on your ear inside of a week for unbecoming behaviour,” Bodie chuckled, and then he sobered. “But seriously, Doyle, if you want to keep on living, you’re going to have to listen to me. If you’re going to argue every time we’re in a dangerous situation, I might just as well pack my kit and leave because there’s no way I can keep you safe under those conditions.”

“You’ve done all right so far,” Doyle admitted grudgingly. He didn’t like admitting it, but he wasn’t as stupid as everyone seemed to think he was. He knew very well that it was only Bodie’s actions that had kept him from more serious injury—or death.

“Luck,” Bodie said. “That’s all it’s been, with you handing me an argument every fucking time I give an order. It’s just a damn good thing I’m stronger than you or you would have blown up with the car the other night.” He shook his head. “In a non-threatening situation you can argue all you want, and I’ll give it straight back to you. I like a good argument. But when it comes to your safety, I need you to listen to me and to do exactly what I say without argument. If you can’t do that, I’m better off leaving now.”

“Fine.” Doyle sighed and leaned his head back against the seat, suddenly feeling exhausted. “If it’s a dangerous situation…”

“And I’ll be the one to decide if it’s dangerous,” Bodie interjected.

“If you decide it’s a dangerous situation, I’ll do what you say without argument. But I can’t promise I won’t yell at you after. And just so you know, I’m going to nail your arse before this is all over.”

Bodie laughed and glanced teasingly over at Doyle. “This arse is totally off limits, sunshine, but if you ever want to bend over…” He winked.

“Not even in your dreams,” Doyle snorted deprecatingly, suppressing the shiver of longing that tried to betray him. He told his unruly body to behave. No one was fucking his arse.

“You might like giving up control for a change.”

In bed that night, Doyle couldn’t stop thinking about bending over for Bodie, and when he finally fell asleep, he dreamed of Bodie fucking him.

Chapter 6

Watching Bodie chatting with Murphy and Anson, the head roadie, Doyle couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted to punch the bastard bodyguard, or kiss him. All night he’d dreamed of Bodie fucking him in unlikely places – in the middle of the high street, in front of George and Ruth, and even on stage in the middle of a show.

It was ridiculous and annoying and Doyle most certainly did not want Bodie fucking him – but he could feel himself getting hard whenever he looked at the way Bodie filled out his trousers. The man was well-built, there was no doubt about that and Doyle hated the way his mouth watered with hunger every time he looked at the bulge in Bodie’s trousers.

There was only one thing for it. He’d have to get Bodie into his bed and fuck him into the mattress. Once he’d done that, Doyle was confident he’d be able to dismiss the far too gorgeous bodyguard from his mind. Seducing Bodie would also give him the added advantage of having something to hold over him should Bodie continue to try to order him around. He’d given his word to listen to Bodie in a dangerous situation, but the bastard seemed to think everything was a dangerous situation and it was pissing Doyle off.

His mind made up, Doyle unfastened a couple more buttons on his shirt and sauntered over to where Bodie was still talking to Anson.

Anson nodded at Doyle in acknowledgement. “Ray. I was just explaining to Bodie how we set up for a show and that there’d be no way an outsider could get access to the equipment.”

“You really don’t know much about the music business, do you?” Doyle asked Bodie with a smile. “Roadies are very protective of the gear under their care – it’s probably better guarded than the crown jewels.”

Bodie’s glance flicked down to Doyle’s crotch and then back up. He smiled wickedly. “I’m sure it is.”

Doyle glared at him, undecided whether to kiss or kick Bodie. He didn’t want to drop to his knees and suck him off.

“But we have had a few problems with your mic,” Anson said, apparently oblivious to the undercurrents of the exchange between Bodie and Doyle. “There was that malfunction of the primary mic two weeks ago, and the lead was cut on the new one when I took it out of the box to set up for tonight.”

Doyle looked alarmed. “I don’t have a mic?” His heart stopped for a moment and then pounded so hard he thought it might leap right out of his chest. Maybe it was one of the crew trying to kill him.

“I fixed it,” Anson said easily. “But I’m a bit worried about how it got cut. I packed the damn thing away myself after the last show.”

“Are you sure no one had access?” Bodie asked, obviously not for the first time judging by Anson’s exasperated sigh.

“There wasn’t anyone around but the crew doing the tear down and once the gear was loaded, the lorry was locked down and I drove it here myself. No unauthorized person would have been able to get anywhere near the gear.”

“Relax, Bodie,” Doyle said, wishing he could believe his words himself. He didn’t really suspect Anson, but it could be any one of the rest of the crew—or they could be all working together to take him out. “The cord most likely got caught in the lid when the box was closed, that’s all. Besides, what’s a malfunctioning mic going to do aside from delaying the show a little while the standby is hooked up?”

“Blow up in your face,” Bodie said grimly.

Doyle laughed and Anson shook his head with a smile. “It wouldn’t get that close to him. We’d know before sound check there was something wrong with it. You couldn’t pack explosives into a mic and still have it work.”

“It could still be booby-trapped,” Bodie insisted.

“Come on.” Doyle tugged on his arm. “Let’s go sit in the seats and let Anson finish getting set up for sound check.”

Sitting beside Doyle while the crew finished setting up the stage for that night’s show, Bodie was amused at the way Doyle was so casually touching him, legs brushing, leaning over to talk so Bodie couldn’t help but smell his after shave… It was entertaining to watch Doyle trying to seduce him rather than using his cruder, more blatant methods. It was also incredibly arousing, but Bodie’d become very adept at hiding his arousal while with the SAS and he doubted anyone else would know how hot the sexy little golly was making him. Especially the sexy little golly.

“Check. Check. One. One two. Two. Two.”

“You see?” Doyle said, indicating the roadie working with the sound crew to set up his mic. “If anyone were to be blown up by my mic, it’d be Roger. He’s always the first one to use it once it’s plugged in.”

“Why’s he doing that?” Bodie asked, enjoying the feeling of Doyle’s body pressing against him, even if he wasn’t intending on doing anything about it. He could imagine all too well the heat of Doyle’s naked skin pressed against his. It was taking more effort than he’d thought to resist grabbing Doyle right then and there. “It’s a bit annoying the way he keeps repeating the same thing over and over.”

Doyle grinned. “He’s got to do that so Mick can get the levels right for when I get up to sing.”

“It’s still annoying.”

“Don’t pay any attention to him,” Doyle suggested, lowering his voice seductively. “We’ve got a bit of time to kill before they’re ready for me.”

“And I didn’t bring my game of Battleship,” Bodie said dryly.

“There are other games we can play.” Doyle slipped his hand over Bodie’s leg, slowly stroking over the inside of his thigh, gradually moving his hand upward. Bodie tensed as Doyle’s caressing touch moved higher. He wouldn’t—couldn’t let Doyle know he was having an effect on him—but if those teasing fingers touched his cock… A man could only hold out so long against torture.

“I don’t think even you want to play those sorts of games with an audience,” Bodie replied in an attempt to get Doyle to back off without it seeming like that was what he wanted. “Particularly when it’ll be you bending over, sunshine.”

“You’ve got a nice arse, Bodie,” Doyle purred, not the least deterred by Bodie’s words. “I can imagine how tight you’ll feel around my dick.”

“You keep on imagining it, old son,” Bodie grinned. “That’s the only way you’re going to get it.”

“Don’t be like that.” Extending one finger, Doyle stroked lightly over the bulge in Bodie’s trousers. “Wouldn’t you like to give up control for a change?”

“I’ve given up control plenty of times in my life,” Bodie replied. It took every scrap of his self-control to gently remove Doyle’s hand from his crotch instead of grabbing it in a vice-like hold and pressing it harder against his arousal. “But I don’t think you have. I bet you’ve never let anyone else take the lead in any of your sexual encounters.”

Doyle shrugged, splaying his hand over Bodie’s chest. “Most people are intimidated by me. I wouldn’t have any sex if I waited for someone else to initiate.”

“You don’t know that.” Bodie reached up to brush his thumb lightly over Doyle’s misshapen cheekbone. “You never give them a chance.”

“Don’t…” Doyle couldn’t stop the shiver that rippled over his body at the touch.

“I bet no one’s ever met you head on and given back as good as they got with you.” Bodie smiled and leaned closer, his lips achingly close to Doyle’s. He didn’t know how he managed to refrain from closing the distance and kissing Doyle senseless right there—but there was no way he was going to let the bugger win this contest of wills. “I bet you’re just aching for someone to give you what you need.”

“We’re ready for you now, Ray.” Anson’s words sliced through the tension of the moment and Doyle found he was unaccountably disappointed when Bodie moved away.

Bodie leaned back, stretching his arms along the backs of the seats, grinning with smug satisfaction as Doyle got up and adjusted himself in his jeans before heading up to the stage.

Watching Doyle, Bodie had to admit the man could sing. However Doyle behaved on his own time, once he stepped onto that stage, he was the consummate professional, focussing his attention on his craft and giving it his very best.

*
When they pulled up to the hotel, Bodie was instantly on high alert when he saw the police car in front of the building. “Keep the motor running, Murph,” he said tersely. Turning to Doyle, he said. “You stay put until I find out why the cops are here.”

Doyle rolled his eyes but before he could open his mouth, Bodie said, “I’m serious, Doyle. This is a potentially dangerous situation here and until I know what’s going on, I want you in a position to get the hell out of here fast.”

“Fine,” Doyle agreed with a sigh.

As soon as he had Doyle’s agreement, Bodie left the car and headed into the hotel. A couple of minutes later he returned, opening the door for Doyle he leaned in and said, “All clear, they’re just here to update us on their investigation.”

“That’s what I thought,” Doyle said as he got out of the car. “You’re really getting off on bossing me around, aren’t you?”

Bodie grinned. “When I’m getting off, you’ll know it, sunshine.”

“So, have they found the berk?”

“Don’t know.” Bodie shrugged. “I came back to get you as soon as I made sure it was safe.”

“Aww, I’m touched, you do like me.”

“Don’t get carried away,” Bodie said dryly. “I’m just doing my job of keeping you safe.”

Doyle glared at him. “Fucker.”

Just before Doyle opened the door to the suite, Bodie leaned in close, his hand resting on Doyle’s arse, finger stroking along the seam of his jeans between his legs, and said in a low voice, “That’s right, sunshine, and if you play your cards right, you can be the fuckee.” Then he pushed Doyle into the suite, following right behind him.

“Ah, Doyle, there you are,” Cowley said. “Inspector Morton has just been informing me on progress made on your case.”

“Have you found the madman?” Doyle asked, setting aside his ongoing tussle with Bodie in an instant, but he couldn’t forgo a glare at Bodie for the dirty move of that teasing finger. And Bodie, the bastard, just grinned smugly back at him.

“No, I am sorry to say that we have not as yet located the suspect,” Inspector Morton said seriously. “As I was telling Mr Cowley, we’ve been able to eliminate quite a number of possibilities, so we are closing in on him and it’s only a matter of time before we catch up with him.”

“So far, they’ve been able to rule out any female as the culprit,” Cowley said.

Inspector Morton nodded. “We believe it is a male who has a grudge against you, possibly you were not what he expected when he met you…”

“Or he wasn’t happy with your performance in bed,” Bodie offered. When three sets of angry eyes glared at him, he plastered an innocent expression on his face. “Well, it is a possibility and it won’t go away if you ignore it.”

The inspector coughed discreetly, returning all attention to him. “After assessing the information we have and the evidence of the attempts that have been made so far, we believe the suspect is your height or a bit shorter, with a slender build…”

“Then it’s not someone I’ve slept with,” Doyle said flatly. At the inspector’s curious look, he elaborated. “Contrary to the belief of half the people in this room, I am rather particular about the people I sleep with.” He couldn’t stop the flush from staining his cheeks as he admitted, “I prefer men who are bigger than me.”

“Every bit of information we can gather will make it easier to pinpoint the suspect,” a blushing Inspector Morton said as he jotted the information in his notebook. “So it’s unlikely to be someone you’ve had intimate contact with. The suspect is familiar with cars, possibly works as a mechanic, but also has the outdoor skills to be able to trap a snake without being bitten.”

“That still covers a lot of people,” Bodie said.

“We are doing the best we can, Mr Bodie,” Inspector Morton replied. “As we narrow the field, the suspect will likely become more dangerous. I suggest you focus your attention on keeping Mr Doyle safe and let us deal with apprehending the suspect.” He nodded at Cowley. “I’ll be in touch when I have any further information.”

While Cowley showed the inspector out, Bodie grinned smugly at Doyle, wordlessly taunting him about what he’d revealed.

“Oh, shut up,” Doyle groused.

“You know what you need, sunshine,” Bodie said, pushing himself away from the wall and stepping closer to Doyle, forcing the other man to take several steps back.

“I’m sure you’re going to tell me what you think I need.”

Bodie kept walking towards Doyle until he had him backed up against the wall. “It’s something you won’t ever get from all your one night stands. You’re going for the lads who are too in awe of you to make the running.”

“Oh, I suppose what I really need is you, is it?” Doyle glared, ignoring the fact that he did very much want to bed Bodie.

“Not necessarily me,” Bodie replied, his voice a seductive purr. “But you need someone who’s going to take command and make you admit what you want.”

“And what’s that?”

“You want to be fucked in the worst way.” Bodie leaned in, lowering his voice so that only Doyle could hear him. “I bet your arse is tingling with anticipation right now. You want a big, muscular man who can bend you over and give you what you won’t even admit to yourself you want.”

“Not bloody likely,” Doyle said, but the denial sounded weak even to his own ears.

Bodie put his hand on the wall over Doyle’s head, leaning in closer to nuzzle Doyle’s cheek as his hand cupped the bulge in Doyle jeans, squeezing gently. Doyle bit back a moan. How had the bastard worked out the one thing that made him hot and ready to go in an instant?

“You won’t be satisfied until you get that, darling, and you know I’m the man to give it to you.” Bodie brushed his lips ever so lightly over Doyle’s and then he was gone, suddenly on the other side of the room as Cowley returned.

Rubbing his hand over his face in an effort to recover from the effect Bodie’s nearness had on him, Doyle pushed away from the wall, ignoring the way his balls ached with need and his legs trembled. “I’m going to have a shower. Order us up some room service, would you, George? I don’t feel like going out for dinner before the show tonight.”

Cowley glanced between Bodie, grinning smugly, and Doyle, who looked like he’d just had a hell of a shock, and shook his head. Without saying a word to either of them, he picked up the phone to order dinner.

Chapter 7

When they arrived in Bradford, there was mail already waiting for them. Ruth sat at the table to deal with it while Doyle and Cowley sat on the couch to discuss possible dates for a tour in America. Bodie lugged the suitcases into everyone’s rooms.

“Oh my God!”

Ruth’s exclamation drew the attention of all three men and they converged on her to see what had her covering her mouth with her hand.

A recent picture of Doyle, obviously taken after he’d been shot in Preston, lay on the table. In addition to the blood on Doyle’s hand and shirt in the picture, there was blood spattered on the picture.

“Come on, Ruthie.” Bodie coaxed her out of her seat, guiding her away from the table to sit on the couch. He poured her a drink. “Now, drink all of this sweetheart. Do you want me to get Murphy?”

“I’m all right.” Ruth shook her head and smiled tremulously at Bodie as she accepted the glass.

“Read this,” Cowley said, nudging the note accompanying the picture with his pen when Bodie returned to the table.

‘You think your so grand. Your handsome guard wont save you next time dirty slut. Nuthing will save you tonight. Youll see. Blood will be everywhere when I have my revenge.’

“Don’t think much of his spelling and grammar, although I have to give him points for acknowledging my good looks,” Bodie said, earning a disparaging glance from Cowley and a quiet snicker from Doyle.

“I’ll call the police,” Cowley said. “We’ll have to cancel the concert.”

“Here, hang about,” Doyle protested in alarm. “We can’t cancel.”

“It’s too dangerous, Ray. The man is deranged. There’s no telling what he’ll do next. He’s obviously following you around. We’ll have to cancel the rest of the tour too.”

“What about all the people who’ve bought tickets already?” Doyle countered. “Not to mention how much it will cost to break the contracts.”

“These are extenuating circumstances,” Cowley said, but he couldn’t hide his dismay at the cost of cancelling the rest of the tour.

“Come on, George. We can’t cancel.”

“We should at least postpone,” Cowley said, obviously being swayed by Doyle’s mention of the cost of cancelling. “You can’t possibly go out there tonight—knowing the villain is going to try something.”

“What about—” Doyle hesitated. “Maybe it’s one of the crew? If it is, cancelling tonight won’t matter.”

Cowley glared at Doyle in exasperation. “Do you think for one minute I would allow someone to work that closely with you without vetting them thoroughly, Ray?”

“Maybe they lied about their credentials,” Doyle said, become more and more sure with every word he said that it had to be one of the crew.

“You’re a very smart man,” Cowley said, very obviously out of patience with Doyle. “But you’ve bothered yourself with nothing more taxing than deciding what outfit you’re going to wear and remembering the words to your songs for so long that I believe your brain is beginning to atrophy.”

“In other words, stop being a moron,” Bodie said with a grin. “The major doesn’t ever leave assessing the strike force to someone else. And he’d never just take a bloke’s say so for what his qualifications and history are.”

“We know this bastard is clever,” Doyle insisted. “He could have fabricated…” His words died away when both Cowley and Bodie shook their heads negating the possibility. “Well, fine then,” he huffed, crossing his arms over his chest. “So it’s not one of the crew. We still can’t cancel the concert.”

“In this instance, I agree with Doyle,” Bodie said. “If you cancel, or even postpone, there’ll be less chance of the police catching the bloke. This is the chance we need to nab him in the act. I think we need to keep going, we’ll just have to be more vigilant. From now on, Doyle, you go nowhere, not even the bathroom, without me and you do exactly what I say at all times.”

“You’ll really enjoy that won’t you,” Doyle said with a sarcastic smile. “I think you get off on ordering people about.”

“You’ve found me out,” Bodie agreed with a lascivious grin.

“Bodie is quite correct,” Cowley said as he dialled the phone. “If you want to continue the tour, Ray, you’ll have to commit yourself to following Bodie’s instructions without argument.”

“All right,” Doyle agreed with feigned reluctance. “When it comes to my safety, I’ll do exactly what you say.” He wasn’t going to admit to anyone that he’d been more shaken than Ruth by the picture. The fact that the madman had stayed in the area after shooting him and been close enough to take the picture was terrifying. Doyle was beginning to fear the man might actually succeed in killing him.

*
Bodie followed Doyle into his bedroom, watching as Ray unzipped his suitcase and started rifling through his clothes. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” Doyle kept his attention focused on his suitcase, willing his hands to stop shaking.

“It’s all right to be scared, Ray,” Bodie said, moving to stand behind Doyle and resting a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Hell, I’m scared.”

“That’s not helping,” Doyle said, closing his hands into fists in an attempt to hide the way they trembled. He was scared – probably even more frightened to know that Bodie was anxious too. “What chance do we stand if you’re scared?”

“Being scared just means we’ll be that much more vigilant,” Bodie countered. “He won’t get past me, Ray. I won’t let him get you.”

“He took my picture after shooting me.”

“There were a lot of people taking pictures. You were already famous before that moment, sunshine. Anyone in the area with a camera was out there snapping away. Besides, there’s a clever new invention called a telephoto lens. The bastard didn’t have to be near to get that close-up shot.”

Doyle turned around, his breath catching in his throat as he realized just how close Bodie was. Tilting his head slightly he looked into Bodie’s eyes. “He was still right there in front of the police.”

“He’s got cojones, I’ll give him that,” Bodie agreed. “But he won’t get you, Ray. I won’t let him.” Bodie wrapped his arms around Doyle, hugging him tightly, and Doyle went with it, wanting to believe that Bodie would save him and needing the comfort of strong arms around him – at least for a moment.

“Kiss me,” Doyle demanded.

Bodie stroked his hand over Doyle’s hair. “I’d like nothing more than to kiss you senseless and fuck you until you can’t think anymore,” he said softly. “But it’s bad for business to sleep with the client. My job is to focus all my attention on keeping you safe.”

“You’d keep me safe in bed.”

“And would you still respect me in the morning and listen to me afterward?”

Doyle sighed in reluctant acceptance. He’d never respected any of the people he’d taken to his bed. He rested his head against Bodie’s shoulder and closed his eyes, not at all satisfied, but willing to take whatever Bodie would give him in the way of physical comfort.

“Ask me again when this is all over,” Bodie whispered.

*
Murphy pulled up at the back of the venue and Bodie hid his smile when Doyle made no move to get out of the car. He was having fun telling Doyle what to do and actually having him obey orders without an argument. Doyle’s lack of argument was a sure sign of just how badly the latest communication from his nemesis had rattled him. Bodie wasn’t averse to frightening Doyle a bit if it meant he’d be better able to keep the singer alive.

“You have your gun handy, Murphy?” Bodie asked.

“Yeah,” Murphy said, clearly uncomfortable about having a gun in his possession. “I don’t know about this, Bodie.”

“It’s just a safety precaution. I’ve got to clear the venue, and I don’t want to leave Doyle unprotected while I do it. Just sit tight. I don’t think you’ll need it, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

After a quick nod of acceptance from Murphy, Bodie closed the car door and headed into the venue. He was back a short time later, scanning their surroundings continuously as he hurried Doyle into the building.

“Anson’s got everything ready for you and he’ll watch out for you,” Bodie said as he guided Doyle through the corridors to the stage area. “Get through your practice singing as quick as you can, okay?”

“What are you going to do?”

“I want to check the rest of the building,” Bodie replied. “We know he’s going to try something here – whether it’s now, or tonight is the only question. I want to make sure I know the whole building just in case. Go on, Ray. I’ll be within shouting distance and Anson will take care of you.”

“All right,” Doyle agreed doubtfully. He felt exposed and vulnerable without Bodie right beside him, but there was no way he was going to admit that—to anyone. He watched as Bodie headed away from him and then sighed, turning to greet Anson waiting for him.

*
Blocking his worry for Doyle from his mind, Bodie set about making sure the building was secure. There were security guards at all the doors, making sure no one who shouldn’t be there got in. That’d be fine until the audience started to arrive. You could hide a hundred men intent on murder in a crowd of several thousand. But that was a problem for later.

After checking all doors and offices, Bodie headed into the main auditorium, automatically making note of all the exits. He paused for a moment to enjoy the sight of Doyle dancing across the stage as he sang and then shook his head to clear it, returning his attention to the task at hand.

There was a rope with a ‘no admittance’ sign hung from it barring access to the balcony and Bodie frowned as he contemplated it. He’d been told the balcony was in need of refurbishment and had been declared unsafe until repairs could be carried out, but would that stop someone intent on trying to kill Doyle? It was a bit far from the stage to give a great degree of accuracy without specialized weapons, so it wouldn’t be much use as a vantage point for that.

Deciding he needed to check the area anyway and he’d just be careful where he walked, Bodie stepped over the rope. Placing his feet with care, he climbed the stairs, cautiously peering over the balustrade to see the rows of seats, a bit worn and tattered, but not really giving any clue as to why the balcony had been barred.

A quick search of the balcony revealed nothing more dangerous than an old, discarded crisp packet. There was still something raising Bodie’s hackles about the balcony, but he couldn’t see anything that would warrant his reaction. Deciding he’d just keep an eye on the area during the show, Bodie headed down the stairs.

“Ah, Bodie, there you are,” Inspector Morton greeted him at the base of the stairs. “My men have been all over this building already. There is nothing untoward.”

“I’m sure they have,” Bodie replied. “So it really doesn’t matter if I want to waste a bit of my time making sure for myself, does it?”

Inspector Morton shook his head and gave a patently false smile. “I do understand your desire to see for yourself that all is secure.” He held out an R/T. “It’s already set to the frequency we’ll be using tonight. If, as we suspect, an attempt is going to be made tonight, I’ll want to be able to contact you instantly. I’ve given one to Mr Anson as well.”

“Ta.” Bodie tucked the device into his jacket pocket. “I don’t like this.”

“None of us like it,” Inspector Morton agreed. “The potential for injury and possible loss of life to innocents cannot be ignored, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to draw the suspect out and apprehend him with minimal risk to the concert goers and Mr Doyle. I won’t insult you by reminding you that you need to make Mr Doyle your primary focus tonight and leave the rest of the people in attendance to the police.”

Bodie smiled grimly. “I am well aware of my responsibilities and where my first priorities lie, Inspector. If you’ll excuse me, I believe my charge is ready to leave.”

*
Alone in the dressing room with Doyle, Bodie leaned against the door, preventing Doyle from leaving and anyone else from getting in. “You okay?”

“I’m just peachy, thanks. Couldn’t be better.” Doyle shrugged. “But the show must go on and all.”

Bodie reached out and drew Doyle into his arms. “You’re doing the right thing, Ray,” he murmured, stroking his hand over Doyle’s back. “It ends tonight. The police will catch the villain and you’ll be safe again.”

“And you’ll be out of a job.”

“You don’t want me around permanently,” Bodie grinned.

Doyle shrugged and looked away. “No one argues with me the way you do.”

“Is it arguing you’re after?” Cupping Doyle’s face in his hands, Bodie stroked his thumbs over Doyle’s cheeks, loving the way Doyle shivered and his eyes half-closed with arousal at the touch.

“You know it’s not,” Doyle whispered.

“I’m just a dumb soldier,” Bodie said softly. “You’ll have to tell me what you want, Ray.”

Doyle swallowed hard, not sure he could say what he wanted. He’d never wanted anyone the way he wanted Bodie, and it terrified him.

“Maybe after this is all over, eh?” Bodie leaned in, brushing a feather-light kiss over Doyle’s lips. “Right now, you’ve got a revved-up audience waiting for you to get out there and gyrate your hips for them.”

“Moron,” Doyle chuckled, the tension of a moment ago fading away. He wasn’t sure if he was relieved or disappointed that Bodie wasn’t going to make him say the words.

There was a knock at the door and Anson said, “Ray? You’re on now.”

Bodie opened the door and bowed Doyle out of the dressing room with a flourish. “Your adoring public awaits.”

*
Standing at the side of the stage, Bodie paid no attention to Doyle’s performance. His restless gaze continually scanned the crowd, certain the danger would come from there and equally certain that the police would not be able to prevent it. There were simply too many people in the building. It would have been impossible to thoroughly check each and every person there for the concert.

Movement where it shouldn’t be caught Bodie’s attention and he narrowed his eyes, surreptitiously looking up to the balcony. There was nothing there now, but Bodie was certain there had been only a moment before. He slipped further back into the shadows at the side of the stage and beckoned to Anson. “I’m going to check something out – watch Doyle.”

Waiting only for Anson’s acknowledgement, Bodie headed out into the theatre proper, discreetly making his way to the roped-off stairs leading up the side of the balcony. Waiting until he was on the stairs to draw his gun, and grateful the noise of the concert would muffle any sounds he made, he hugged the wall as he made his way up the stairs.

When he reached the balcony Bodie cautiously lifted his head just enough to peer over the edge of the balustrade. He could make out the shadowy figure of a man at the front of the balcony in the middle of the first row intently focusing on the stage, but what made his blood run cold was the sight of the rifle set up in front of the man, pointing directly at the stage.

Without hesitation, Bodie pulled himself over the balustrade and when the man turned toward him at the noise he made, shot him full in the chest, sending him flying back over the seats closest to him. Approaching carefully in case the man was playing dead and had another gun, Bodie kept his gaze on the figure lying unmoving on the seats as he pulled the rifle down, setting it on the floor pointing away from the stage.

The sound of the injured man laughing drew Bodie to him. “You bastard,” Bodie snarled. “What the hell did Ray ever do to you?”

The man laughed more and coughed, blood trickling from the corner of his mouth. “You won’t save him. He’s going to die. They’re all going to die.”

“You’re not going to get a chance to shoot him again. There’s police swarming the building.”

“Bomb,” the man chortled. “You’ll never find it in time.”

Bodie grabbed the man’s shirt, dragging him up off the seats. “Where is it?”

“Boom,” the man whispered, and then he died.

“Fuck!” Bodie threw the man from him and dug the R/T from his pocket. “Morton, clear the building, the fucker planted a bomb! Anson, get Ray the hell out of here!”

The music stopped immediately and Doyle and the band were hustled off the stage as Inspector Morton took over the mic, “Ladies and gentlemen, I regret we’re going to have to end tonight’s show here. There is a minor gas leak at the hotel across the road and as a safety measure we’re evacuating the area. I would ask that you please make your way to the exits in an orderly fashion and follow the instructions of the uniformed officers outside.”

A low rumble of sound marked the crowd’s expression of their disappointment and anger at the abrupt end of the concert. Some people remained in their seats in defiance, but most began to make their way to the exits.

The soft grumble grew louder until screams erupted and Bodie closed his eyes in dismay when he heard someone shout the word ‘bomb’. The crowd that had been shuffling out in an orderly fashion began to push and shove. One person started shrieking, and this seemed to set off a chain-reaction as panic set in and the crowd became a frenzied mob, all trying at once to get out of the building.

Watching the surging crowd and knowing he would have no chance of escaping the balcony, Bodie searched the dead man, seeking anything that would reveal why he had targeted Doyle and why he’d decided on a method that would possibly kill hundreds of innocent people. But there was nothing at all in the man’s pockets.

*
“Come on, Ray!” Anson tugged on Doyle’s arm, trying to steer him towards the stage door. “We’ve got to get out of here.”

Doyle looked up at the balcony, seeing Bodie staring back down at him. He snarled in denial when Bodie lifted his hand and blew him a kiss in farewell. Whirling around, Doyle punched Anson in the stomach, forcing him to release his hold. “Get the crew out of here, Anson,” he shouted.

Running back out onto the stage, Doyle leapt off it and began to push his way through the mindless crowd. No one paid any attention to him other than as one more body preventing them from escaping the building.

He’d just clambered over the rope on the balcony stairs when there was a loud explosion and the world crumbled around him. Falling onto the stairs, Doyle curled onto his side and wrapped his arms over his head in an effort to protect himself from the deadly rain of debris as the walls collapsed on him.

Chapter 8

“Bodie, are you there?”

The crackling of the R/T dragged Bodie out of his semi-conscious state and he stared about him wildly. Memory of recent events came rushing back. There’d been a bomb. And Doyle, the dozy bugger, instead of escaping like he was supposed to had made a beeline for the balcony.

Peering around him in the dark, Bodie realized the balcony had collapsed down to the main floor, and the stairs were buried in rubble. “Ray!” he cried in an agonized voice, clawing his way over the debris. The last sight he’d had of Doyle was as he’d disappeared beneath the balcony, headed for the stairs.

“BODIE!” Anson’s bellow shook Bodie and he realized he was still clutching the R/T in his hand.

“Fuck off,” Bodie snarled into the R/T. “Doyle’s buried on the stairs.” He tossed the R/T aside and began throwing debris out of the way, frantically searching for Doyle.

A large slab of plaster rested on all that remained of the upper balustrade and draped down to the floor, creating a small, protected space. Peering beneath it in the dark, Bodie could just make out the shape of Doyle, curled on his side with his hands over his head. He reached into the confined space, desperate to know if Doyle was still alive. His hands groped over Doyle’s trousers and shirt and Bodie stretched his fingers out, seeking a pulse.

“Ray? Ray? Are you awake! Come on, Ray, talk to me,” Bodie pleaded.

“Out.” Doyle’s voice was weak, but it was the most beautiful sound Bodie had ever heard. “Want out.”

“All right, sunshine,” Bodie soothed, his voice full of relief. “Just let me get a bit of this shit cleared away and we’ll have you out of there. Are you hurt?”

“Hurts – yes. Bodie…”

“I’m here.”

“Can’t – can’t breathe.”

“The hell you can’t! Don’t you bloody dare die on me, Doyle or I’ll kill you myself!”

“Bloody Scouse bastard.”

“Yeah, that’s it,” Bodie encouraged. “Get your dander up. Keep fighting, Doyle.”

Clearing the area as much as he could, Bodie grabbed hold of Doyle’s legs. “Gonna pull you out now, mate. Sing out if it hurts too much.”

“Go… on…”

Bodie pulled on Doyle’s legs, slow and steady, carefully extricating him from the cocoon of plaster. Doyle cried out with pain as he was finally freed and his arm fell away from where it had been protecting his head.

“Okay?” Bodie asked anxiously, letting go of Doyle’s legs and moving up so he could look into his eyes.

“Bloody arm’s broken,” Doyle groaned.

“Oh, is that all.”

Doyle opened his eyes and looked into Bodie’s, the barest hint of a smile curving his lips. “Some bodyguard you are – you’re fired.”

“Hey,” Bodie said in an injured tone. “You would have been just fine if you’d done what you were told and got out.”

“Shut up and kiss me, now that I’m no longer a job,” Doyle replied.

Bodie grinned and leaned in to press a tender kiss to Doyle’s lips. “You’re filthy and you’re hurt…”

“You’re not much better,” Doyle said with a laugh, and then he winced. “Think my ribs are busted too.” He reached up with his uninjured hand to wipe Bodie’s forehead. “You’re bleeding.”

“Am I? I thought it was sweat. It’s hot in here.”

“No, it’s cold.”

Bodie stripped off his jacket and carefully draped it over Doyle.

Gradually the moaning and cries for help from other people caught in the building reached their ears. “I should probably go and see if I can help…” Bodie said reluctantly. “You’ll be okay, Ray.”

“Don’t leave me alone.”

And then Bodie heard the sound of someone calling out “Hello? Anyone in here?”

“Here! Over here!” he called, standing up to wave at the rescue personnel. Feeling a bit better about staying with Doyle rather than helping the other injured people when he saw how many workers had started sifting through the rubble with torches, Bodie knelt beside Doyle once more.

“How bad is it?” Doyle asked quietly.

Bodie looked around. He couldn’t see much in the dark, but he could see enough to know the building had been heavily damaged. The guy he’d killed had obviously wanted to make certain Doyle died in the blast.

“Bodie?”

Looking into Doyle’s eyes, Bodie knew he couldn’t lie to him. “It’s bad, Ray. The whole building’s a wreck. I think they’ll probably have to tear it down.”

Doyle closed his eyes in pain. “Not everyone got out, did they?”

“I don’t think so, no.”

“It’s my fault.”

“The hell it is!”

“How are you, sir?”

Bodie glared at the man who’d come to help them, and then softened his expression. “I’m fine, Doyle’s got a broken arm and maybe a couple of cracked or broken ribs – and he’s probably got a concussion too.” He glared at Doyle. “It’s the only thing that’d explain the stupid words that just came out of his mouth.”

“Well, let’s see, shall we?” The rescuer knelt on the other side of Doyle. “Aside from your arm and ribs, does anything else hurt, sir?”

“We should have cancelled,” Doyle said, ignoring the rescue worker and glaring at Bodie. “If we had, none of these people would have been hurt or…”

“We’re going to get you out of here, sir, but I need to know if anything else hurts.”

“No – nothing,” Doyle finally responded. “I just… Bodie…”

“I know, Ray,” Bodie said gently, taking hold of Doyle’s uninjured hand.

It wasn’t long before Doyle was on a stretcher and being carried out of the ruin of the building, Bodie walking right beside the stretcher and refusing all attempts to take care of his own injuries.

“Bodie,” Inspector Morton strode toward him as Doyle’s stretcher was being loaded into the ambulance.

“Morton,” Bodie acknowledged curtly. “Your suspect is dead. He was on the balcony with a high-power rifle trained on the stage. I shot him, but the bastard had a bomb set somewhere in the building. If you want anything else from me, you can come and talk to me at the hospital.” Without waiting for Inspector Morton’s response, Bodie climbed into the ambulance and the doors were closed.

*

Cowley leaned on the window, looking out on the street down below. “Dozens of people injured, a building utterly ruined, and for what reason? Do we even know who it was and why Doyle was targeted?”

“Charles Everson was an average working man,” Inspector Morton said. “He worked at Miller’s Garage in Lambeth. According to his wife he spent more time working on cars than with her. This led her to look for company elsewhere. Everson suspected his wife of playing around, but the only one he saw her with was Mr Doyle.

“Instead of confronting his wife, or working to repair the damage to his marriage, he decided the collapse of his relationship was due to Mr Doyle’s sleeping with his wife. In his mind, if he removed Mr Doyle from the picture, his wife would love him again.”

“That’s absolutely preposterous!” Cowley exclaimed.

“You and I know that,” Morton agreed. “But Everson wasn’t the sort to take responsibility for what went wrong in his life. He was always looking to blame someone else for his woes. Talking with Mrs Everson, it appears the marriage had been in trouble for some time with her and her husband leading separate lives—as much as possible while still living in the same house.”

“Because he didn’t pay attention to his wife, and she went looking elsewhere, he decided to blow up a building, potentially killing everyone inside?” Bodie asked in disbelief. “The man was a nutter!”

“Everson was what you might call slow and had an explosive temper that saw him in trouble regularly when he was in school,” Morton explained. “He seemed to calm down when he took up with Lucy Martin and eventually married her. Looking at the facts now, it appears that faced with the evidence of his wife’s infidelity, Everson lost his tenuous grip on reality in his quest to somehow hold onto his wife. Mr Doyle was his target, but the state he was in, Mr Everson wasn’t rational enough to worry about the innocent people who could have possibly been harmed in his efforts to remove Mr Doyle from the picture.”

“He didn’t mention any of that,” Bodie said. “All he did was laugh about how everyone was going to die.”

“And that reminds me,” Morton said. “What were you doing in the balcony, Mr Bodie? Your brief was to guard Mr Doyle who was on stage performing, so why were you at the other end of the hall?”

“I was standing at the side of the stage,” Bodie replied. “Watching the crowd. I knew what Doyle was doing, but I didn’t know what the crowd would do. I’d checked out the building earlier and made sure the balcony was clear. You saw me when I came downstairs.”

Morton nodded.

“It wasn’t much, just a flicker in the corner of my eye,” Bodie continued. “But it shouldn’t have been there, so I went to check it out. Everson was set up with a high-powered rifle pointed at the stage. Rather than get into a negotiation, I shot him.”

“Did you have to shoot to kill?” Cowley asked in irritation. “It would have been nice to have learned Mr Everson’s motivation from him rather than having to decipher it from information gleaned from others, and we’ll not even mention that he should have been apprehended so he could be held accountable for his actions.”

Bodie shrugged. “Madmen don’t usually explain themselves. You treat them like the rabid dogs they are and put them down as quickly as you can. Besides, even if I’d just winged him, I doubt he would have survived the blast.”

“And how did you survive?” Morton asked. “For someone supposedly caught up in the blast you sustained very few injuries.”

Bodie stared at Morton, his face an expressionless mask. “Are you suggesting I abandoned my post, Inspector?”

“You must admit it is rather peculiar that you survived the collapse of a building with nothing more than a cut over your eyebrow and a few scrapes and bruises,” Morton replied, refusing to back down.

“Mr Bodie’s integrity is not in question,” Cowley interjected. “He was in the SAS and came highly recommended by Major Fred Nairn. I suggest you talk to Major Nairn regarding the training every SAS soldier receives before suggesting that Bodie’s lack of injury could be as a result of dereliction of duty.”

“There wasn’t a chance in hell I’d be able to get off the balcony with everyone trying to rush out of the building,” Bodie said. “I’d already determined that the stairs weren’t very solid so I made an assessment of what was available to me and took shelter in what I deemed to be the sturdiest part of the balcony.”

“Preparedness is the watchword to survival, particularly in an outfit like the SAS,” Cowley said harshly.

“I’ll be talking to Major Nairn,” Morton said as he prepared to leave.

“Give him my regards,” Bodie called after him. “And tell him next time he’s got a job offer for me, he can shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.”

Cowley pursed his lips to hide his smile as he showed Inspector Morton out.

Once the inspector was gone Bodie asked, “How’s Anson?”

“Aside from the broken leg, he’s fine. He wouldn’t have been hurt at all if he hadn’t gone chasing after Ray,” Cowley replied. “Given the size of the blast and the destruction of the building, we’re very fortunate most of the injuries were minor, although there are three young ladies in a serious condition in hospital. Amazing as it seems, you were in time with your warning and no one was killed.”

“Yet,” Bodie said grimly.

Cowley swept on as if Bodie hadn’t spoken, “I’ve had Ruth arrange for flowers for the injured parties. Once Ray has recovered sufficiently from his own injuries, we’ll discuss what else we can do for them.”

“I know my job officially ended once Everson was dead,” Bodie said. “But I thought I might hang around a bit until Doyle’s on his feet again. I don’t expect you to pay me…”

“About that,” Cowley interrupted. “Ray’s career is on the rise, Bodie and he’s only going to get more popular. Ray and I have discussed it and would like to offer you a permanent position as Ray’s bodyguard.”

“That’s really not necessary, Mr Cowley,” Bodie protested.

“Then you may explain to Ray why you are declining the offer,” Cowley said with a wicked gleam in his eye. “He was most insistent that you be offered incentive enough to remain.”

“I’m going to kill him myself,” Bodie muttered. “If he thinks for one minute…” The rest of his sentence was lost as he stormed out of the hotel room.

Epilogue

“What the hell are you thinking?” Bodie demanded as he barged into Doyle’s hospital room.

“Oh, hello, Bodie,” Doyle said. “You’re looking well. Thank you, you’re looking very much recovered as well, Doyle. Arm and ribs not paining you too much? No, no, not at all, nearly recovered, I am.”

“What?” Bodie blinked in confusion.

“I was just repeating the conversation anyone with manners would have when coming to visit an injured person in hospital,” Doyle replied with a guileless expression on his face.

“You…” Bodie’s irritation drained away and he chuckled. “How are the arm and ribs?”

“Nearly good as new,” Doyle pronounced. “I’ll be out of here in no time and well able to make good on my promise to fuck you into the mattress.”

“You’ll be lucky,” Bodie snorted. “You’ve got a busted wing, can’t hold yourself up with only one arm. You’ll have to lie back and let me do the driving.”

“Not a chance. When I bed someone, I do the fucking.”

“See, that’s your problem, Doyle,” Bodie said as he sat on the edge of the bed. “You’ve been going about it all wrong.”

“I haven’t had any complaints.”

“Yeah, but you haven’t exactly been satisfied either, have you?”

“I don’t bottom, Bodie.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean, why?”

“Why don’t you bottom?” Bodie asked. “Have you tried it and found you don’t like it? Or is it maybe that you don’t think you’re a man if you’re the one being fucked?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Yeah, it does.” Bodie reached out to cup Doyle’s chin, forcing him to maintain eye contact. “There’s no shame in taking a cock up your arse, Ray.”

“You don’t do it.”

“I have in the past,” Bodie said, “And I will again in the future.”

“But you won’t with me,” Doyle said, starting to get angry.

“Not if it means you’ll think less of me.”

“You saved my life.”

“Yeah, I did.”

Doyle tried to shrug and then winced when his ribs twinged. “Can’t think you’re not a man when you’ve proved several times that you’re very much a man, now can I?”

“I have a solution,” Bodie said softly. “How about we take turns.”

“Take turns,” Doyle said. “As in – more than once. So, you’re accepting the job then?”

Bodie grinned. “You may be sorry. I’m a possessive bastard, Ray. And I’m good at what I do. You’re not going to need anyone else, you’ll be working flat out to keep me satisfied.”

Doyle chuckled. “Don’t half fancy yourself, do you?”

“We’ll be taking turns,” Bodie said with a smile.

Doyle nodded. “But I’m fucking you first.”

“You’ve still got a busted wing.”

“I’ll manage.”

“Doyle, shut up.”

And Bodie made sure he did by taking his mouth in a possessive kiss.