After too much time apart from his lover and sub, Brian Harrison is thinking kink, a cowboy hat, and one more marriage proposal. When Jackie Vasquez finally says “yes” to a wedding, he also says, “why wait?” But their vows and the toasts to the happy couple have hardly faded when a phone call reminds them that trouble still awaits.
Despite his best intentions, Brian broke the law in his efforts to stop a powerful criminal from harming those he loves. He could go to prison, or he could risk his life going undercover to help bring one of Europe’s most nefarious citizens to justice. Friends and smart thinking can help him do the right thing. But only love can supply the courage he and Jackie need to prevail against schemes and guns and, if they’re lucky, stay alive to enjoy a honeymoon.
Praise for A Shot of Courage (Vasquez Inc 6)
"Whew! This is like an international thriller to be honest – with a pretty exciting climax to the story. I really want to know what they are going to do going forward as there are a lot of things hanging in the balance. Highly recommended – especially for those who love intrigue and suspense!"
-- 4.5 Hearts from Sadonna, Love Bytes Reviews
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A Shot of Courage (Vasquez Inc 6)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Lou Sylvre
After his late flight to Sea Tac and a two hour drive -- including an awkward conversation with Luki and a rough ferry ride over a choppy Puget Sound -- it was two in the morning before Jackie arrived at the Vasquez-James home near Port Clifton.
The day had been long and trying for him, and worse for Brian. Jackie wouldn’t have called home before bed if he’d thought Brian was there. After the high emotions of their morning discussion, the looming plans they made for Brian to confess all to Luki, their trip into the tunnels of hidden Los Angeles to find the homeless woman named Esi, and Brian’s fight with that gun-toting asshole, Lieb, he deserved a night of uninterrupted sleep. But Brian got arrested after that fight, and Jackie thought he’d still be in jail. He called just to comfort himself with Brian’s voice on the recording before he sought his own pillow.
But Brian answered on the first ring. Confused at first, Jackie finally said, “Oh, you’re there.”
They both laughed and for Jackie’s exhausted spirit, it was like rain on a desert.
“They let me walk,” Brian said. “No charges. No explanation.”
Jackie said, “Whatever their reason, I’m sorry if I woke you up. I’m glad you’re home, though. Bet Marley’s glad too.”
“Oh, you know Marley. He’s tolerating me, but he misses you, and he let me know he thinks your absence is my fault. Damn cat.”
Jackie laughed. “He loves you.”
“Yeah, sure. Anybody else you know?”
“Me. I love you too.”
“Thanks. That’s what I was fishing for.”
Jackie lay down on his bed, which was cloud-comfy, and sighed. A quiet interlude followed and he almost fell asleep. Then they both spoke at the same time.
“I wish you’d been able to come with me,” Jackie said.
Brian spoke of practical things, though. “Tomorrow’s your appointment in Seattle?”
“Yeah. Sonny’ll take me.”
“You need to get some sleep, love. That’s exciting stuff, getting a new leg! Something not everybody gets to do!”
“I know, and I’m excited. But since you did answer the phone --”
“Hanky-panky?” Brian laughed. “I might be too tired, but we could give it a shot.”
Jackie rolled his eyes but only Bear, who’d come in for a goodnight belly-rub, saw it. “No, Brian. I’m definitely too tired. Maybe do some solo-pankying if you want. You can tell me about it tomorrow.”
Brian said nothing, and Jackie started to worry Brian had taken him seriously. Then Brian pretended to snore.
Jackie laughed. “But as I started to say, since you answered the phone, we have to talk about Thanksgiving.”
“Luki didn’t talk about anything else the whole drive home. You know he loves making his feast. He expects us.”
“Brian, it’s next week.”
“Oh shit, I hadn’t even thought about it.”
“Me neither, but listen. I got to thinking. Why don’t you wait? I mean, I know you want to get everything off your chest, tell Luki about investigating the Espen-Vintner stuff, and all, but…”
“You think it would be better to tell him in person.”
“Yeah. I do. And after his whole big T-day feast thing? You know it’s gonna turn out flawless. He’ll be stoked, in a good mood.”
“And then I’ll ruin it. He --”
“And maybe I’m selfish, but I’d like a chance to enjoy the time, your company, my family, before things get all gloomy.”
“Okay. I… I don’t know what to expect with Vintner after the fight with Lieb. I suppose if I’m gone, it’ll be okay. I’ll fly up Wednesday.”
“Not here. Thanksgiving’s at Josh and Ruthie’s in Boulder. Josh couldn’t get enough time off work. Jude’s booking your flight, and the hotel where Sonny wants to stay. No room at Josh’s.”
* * *
The Hotel Boulderado, which looked like it belonged in Texas to his untrained eye, seemed to Brian a very fine place for a cowboy to meet up with his lover and sub after a long time apart.
He’d been in an unusually playful mood ever since he boarded the plane for his flight to Boulder. Somehow this whole Thanksgiving visit in Colorado seemed like a chance to step out of his troubles and enjoy life -- even though he’d have to face his troubles while he was there, have that conversation with Luki about the hellacious mess he’d got himself into with Vintner.
His flight had come into Denver around eight at night, and while he waited for the ground shuttle to Boulder, he did a little shopping, just for fun.
Now, as he stepped onto the landing of the hotel’s fourth floor, the sound of his brand new cowboy bootheels clicking on the tiles broadened his smile. He gave the dozen red roses he carried a sniff, and put on his cowboy hat.
When he got to the door, he double-checked the number, and then instead of using his key-card, he knocked. He heard Jackie shuffling toward the door after a minute, but -- good for him -- he didn’t open it.
“Who is it?”
Brian thought about giving some cryptic answer, but he didn’t want to seem scary, and he did want Jackie to open the door. So he said, “It’s Brian,” and then slouched against the doorframe, cowboy hat cocked over one eye.
Jackie opened it, obviously started to say something, but went quiet, a surprised and puzzled smile on his face.
Brian didn’t move. He’d never been to Texas, but he hoped his twang sounded more Texan than hilarious. “I hear a cowboy might be able to find a good time at this here establishment.”
Jackie placed his cane and took a hop back from the door. He wasn’t wearing his prosthetic, his hair was wet and dark, his skin a little steamy -- apparently freshly showered. Jackie wore a navy tank that stopped at his hip bones, and silky briefs, the same color, that stopped an inch or so lower down. After Brian’s cowboy question, he ran his free hand over his clothes, a gesture that made him seem suddenly shy. He bit his lip, then stepped smoothly into character. “Well,” he said in a convincing breathy drawl, “some cowboys can.”
Brian came in and closed the door. “Just because you have a better Texas drawl than me, my good man, that don’t mean you can just have your way. I ain’t gonna do none of what you’re hopin’ for until you tell me the sexiest, safest words you know.”
“Yellow, Sir. My words, are yellow and red, and I’m more’n happy to give ‘em to you.”