Excerpt: Middle Man

BOOK THREE OF THE BILLIONAIRE AND THE BODYGUARD

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“Will you two stay the night?”

From the head of the table, James Russo is thoroughly enjoying watching the differing reactions to the question.

He can see that the question takes Marek by surprise, but not Mitchell. Not after all of the long looks, the hints. He is a cop after all — observant enough to know that tonight is different.

The only indication that Graves’ poker face may crack at some point is the slightest smile that flashes across the man’s face, dimples making just the briefest appearance.

Marek, across the table from him, is entirely the opposite — choking, sputtering, flushing deep behind his neat beard. He’s the perfect foil to the cop, both in looks and disposition. Where Marek is dark and expressive, Graves is porcelain and serene.

Marek has always worn his heart on his sleeve, too: easy to laugh and easy to flirt. Over their recent shared dinners together, Marek has brought a lightness to the dynamic between Russo and Graves, who both tend towards seriousness at the end of the day.

They’re a perfect study in contrasts.

Russo is insatiably curious about what it will be like to get the two of them in bed together.

“You ok, Marek?” Russo asks through a smile. “I’m trying to proposition you — not kill you.”

Marek regains himself after a minute, reaching for a glass of water.

“I won’t be… intruding?” he asks, looking to Graves from under furrowed brows.

The young cop has gone serious. Russo would wager he’s thinking about the conversation they’d had a few weeks ago, wondering if that’s the plan tonight — not just a threesome, but the two of them at once. Would he be ready?

Chewing his bottom lip absentmindedly, the cop holds Marek’s gaze and shakes his head: no, Marek wouldn’t be intruding.

“Attaboy,” Russo says, leaning to card a hand through Graves’ ruddy hair. Marek’s eyes go a little wide at the open affection — the way Graves sighs and leans into the touch, even here at the dinner table. Marek is well aware of the fact that the billionaire and the bodyguard have fallen into bed together. Even so, Russo has been restrained until now in his affection towards Graves.

A sigh seems to escape both Graves and Marek — the quality of the air changing — as Russo begins to touch the cop. As if the two men had been holding their breath until now. Graves is practically humming already.

Graves may be reserved, but Russo has learned quickly that the kid lives and breathes for praise and attention.

Something Marek will find out soon enough, Russo thinks.

“Shall we retire then?” Russo says, still stroking his hand through Graves’ hair. He raises an eyebrow at Marek who puffs a laugh.

“Christ, just like that?” Marek asks, incredulous. “All business, Russo.”

Russo shakes his head.

“No business, commissioner,” he says, low. “Not from here on out.”

“What about your security detail?” Marek asks.

“Dudley’s fine,” Graves says, still leaning into Russo’s hand. “He knows. And he’s on the payroll.”

“Half of Brookedge is on your goddamn payroll, Russo,” Marek says, looking at Russo. All the politician can do is shrug and smile.

“Cash tends to lubricate the way to fun,” Russo says. “I prefer to have both in abundance.”

“I’m lost — money and lubricant?” Marek asks.

Graves chuckles hard in his chest, a rolling, helpless little sound.

“Money and fun, William,” James says, drawing his hand back and rolling his eyes.

“To be fair,” Graves says, “you keep a lot of lube around, too.”