Nick noticed a blond guy in the distance as Rod and he walked over to their car. He admired the silhouette of the young, fit male as the stranger abruptly turned and disappeared into the shadows. 'A little window shopping never hurts,' he reasoned. Nick Maggiano and Rod Liddy would be celebrating the seventh anniversary of their partnership in December.
"That was a fun party, Nick. No pretense or political bullshit."
"I found the eclectic crowd that Drew and Bob gathered tonight unusual and stimulating." Nick clicked the door lock remote and the Lexus' parking lights briefly flashed.
"Your guy is a smooth operator. I had an opportunity to observe Drew subtly mix and match the guests. Most were being socially-manipulated without knowing it," Rod said with a laugh, opening the passenger door.
"Yes, he knows how to draw out the best in a person. That's why I chose him for the resident manager's job over others more senior. Drew's great with guests and his staff. I think he's really going to excel in that slot." Nick slid in the driver's seat, inserted the key into the ignition switch and started the LS. The four-cam V8 quietly purred to life while Nick and Rod engaged the seat belts.
"His friend, Bob, is no slouch but clearly takes the lead from Drew...nothing subservient, though. I sense that the guys have moved into some sort of relationship and are figuring out exactly where they complement each other." Rod comfortably rested his hand on Nick's thigh as the dark sedan pulled away from the curb.
"That's my guess. Bob's only been here a short time and Drew knows a 'keeper' when he sees one. If they can find half the love in a partnership that we have, baby, Bob and Drew will be together for a long time. Stability in Drew's personal life will only enhance what I have in mind for him in business down the road. But we've just got to get this Bosco thing resolved." Nick sped through the apartment complex entry and onto North Green Valley Parkway. They were only five minutes away from their home near Wildhorse Golf Club.
"Has that creep been spotted?" Rod asked. Nick had kept him informed of the casino drama concerning the guys and Bosco.
"No. I suspect he fled town after the attempt to lure Bob over to that vacant apartment failed. But I've got security on top of it. If that asshole surfaces, he'll be nailed. Those boys' safety is my responsibility."
"By the way, I did find out something very interesting in my conversation with Bob, tonight," Rod replied. "His sister is the woman that Al Bromley, Jr., is marrying. He's going to be young Al's brother-in-law. They were fraternity brothers at UCLA and Bob introduced his sister to Al on a blind date. I guess they're all very tight."
"Wow, that is interesting news. All the more reason to keep those guys safe. I've got a meeting with Big Al next week. He and his business associates will be in town to start filing the paperwork for the project with the state." Nick weighed the information he had just received, as it affected the new casino that Mr. Bromley would be financing with his friends from back east. The new casino - tentatively named 'Toscana' - would open in 2008 with Nick Maggiano its president and partner.
"I assume Big Al has everything lined up?" Rod knew that Nick was one of the few in Las Vegas allowed to refer to Mr. Bromley by his childhood street name.
"The details are finalized, I understand, and the registered partners in New York are squeaky-clean." Nick shared his dream and basic deal with Rod, but not the details. There were certain aspects of the project that were left unsaid. 'The less Rod knows about the real money, the better,' Nick thought. 'Revealing the actual identity of the New Yorkers would not be cool.' The basic truth was that the company was a NASDAQ-traded public corporation that had been cleansed through more laundering than sheets at the Mustang Ranch.
"Buddy, for the 1.2 billion that's being invested, they'd be crazy not to have everything lined up for the gaming commission. The 5% participation 'sweat equity' Bromley gave you is just good insurance. Toscana will be a gold mine with you leading the operation." Rod slowly stroked Nick's thigh for emphasis.
"Part of that insurance is not to draw attention to any problems that might be associated with the new casino. If something happens to Bob Harrington or Drew Reichardt, the whole thing could blow away faster than you can say 'George Bush'. That's why I've got to have Bosco found and dealt with. That fucker is a potential disaster." Nick wound his way through the neighborhood streets off the parkway.
"Nick, you've got Nero's security watching the guys. What else can you do?" Rod turned and stared at his lover as they pulled into the driveway of their sprawling one-story home. After the garage door was raised, the Lexus slowly pulled into the vacant space next to Rod's Bimmer.
"Las Vegas Metro pulled out of their surveillance because of the expense. Rather than alarm Big Al, I'll call New York. The boys back there will have a solution." Nick moved the gear into 'park' and turned off the engine. He turned to Rod and brought his lips to meet his lover's. "In the meantime, I've got a solution to that humongous bulge in your pants."
"I thought you'd never notice."
"So that's about it, guys. Heather will be our new director of guest services and I'll develop an action plan for 2007 from your input. We inherited the budget that has just been approved but it's pretty solid and doable. If there are no further questions, that's it until next week. By that time I'll have all the details of the big fight next month." Drew smiled and looked around to his managers for final comments before the Monday staff meeting ended. Slowly the group left the front desk conference room as Drew collected his notes. 'All in all, a pretty productive afternoon,' he thought with satisfaction, walking back to his new office.
He sat down at the desk and opened the email window. Aside from 'cc' inter-department head notes, two others piqued his attention. One was from Nick Maggiano inviting him for a brief meeting at 5:00 p.m. in the Roman Lounge near the baccarat tables, and the other from Bob inquiring about dinner and a 'call me when you get a chance' ending. After calling Nick's secretary to confirm the meeting, he dialed Bob. He noted that it was 4:00 p.m. when he glanced at his watch.
"Hey, Mr. Harrington, how's the marketing whiz kid of Nero's doing?"
"Ready to 'whiz' on the shit load of work piled on my desk. This middleweight fight is turning into a big deal. Everyone seems to want to come to the event. We've run out of comp seats for the press and P.R. is driving me nuts."
"Tell me about it. The casino just requested another 200 rooms for VIP's and I've got a sold out hardware convention that weekend. The meeting planner is going to be pissed when I 'walk' his group to the Flamingo. Got some real handholding to do."
"Babe, I'll hold your hand later tonight...or whatever else you want me to hold," Bob replied with a low voice and a snicker.
"Umm, I can get into that. But first we're going to eat. What's your idea?"
"I thought a pig out on the buffet at the Green Valley Casino would be appropriate. We both spent more time working than eating at the party this past weekend and I think we should treat ourselves."
"Great idea. But let's go to the gym first. I gotta see Nick about something around five and should be able to meet you around 6:00 p.m. Why don't you go ahead to the gym and I'll join you in the weight room?"
"Okay, buddy. I'm going to return a few phone calls and shove off soon. See ya later. Bye, bye."
"Love you. Bye." The short conversation with Bob had made his day. 'What a lucky guy I am,' he considered, while imagining how he'd expel his sexual energy at home.
Drew called his counterpart at the Flamingo and arranged for 200 rooms for two nights to take care of the convention guests who would be 'walked'. He wanted to have all details under control before he met with the hotel sales director tomorrow morning.
Shortly before five he finished some work on a spreadsheet, shut down the computer and checked out with the manager on duty before walking across the lobby into the fringes of the casino.
The Roman Lounge was slightly elevated and next to the fabled baccarat room. It was estimated that 75% of all Nevada baccarat action took place on the twelve tables sitting before Drew. He sat down, ordered a club soda from a cocktail goddess and watched the groups of players before him. The dealers quietly dealt the cards amongst the stacks of chips. Drew always marveled at the amount of pink chips in play. Each pink chip was worth $1,000.00.
"Hi, Drew. Sorry to be a few minutes late." Nick shook Drew's hand and joined him at the cocktail table.
"Nick, no problem. I just got here and was watching the action. Mr. Woo seems to be on a winning streak." At a nearby table sat a distinguished Asian man and elegant woman with several piles of pink chips.
"Mr. 'W' is into us for around a 'mil' right now. I was reviewing the play with the boss in his office. That's okay. We got him for 1.2 last night and it's not like he has to put his office tower in Hong Kong up for collateral," Nick replied with a chuckle. "The last I looked, Woo, Ltd., was worth over 10 billion...and that's not Hong Kong dollars."
"He's planning on staying through the week so I didn't book anyone in the Emperor's suite until Sunday." Drew knew that Steven Woo defined the term 'whale' in casino-speak and Nero's did everything possible to make his stay pleasant. He smiled at Nick referencing the Chinese mogul as Mr. 'W'. This was the way dealers and casino floor executives referred to regular, repeat clientele.
"I appreciate that," Nick replied with a nod. The cocktail goddess brought his usual Campari and soda and he took a sip. "How's everything else going? Feeling comfortable in the new job?"
"Absolutely. We all know each other in the department and there's a spirit of cooperation," Drew said with pride swelling inside. "Once we get through the fight weekend, everything will be pretty smooth until New Year's Eve week."
"Drew, let's talk about some personal issues. I wanted to mention something about the Bosco thing. As you are aware, Metro pulled their surveillance team last week. However, I've got that covered. Starting tomorrow, there will be some private guards watching out for Bob and you. Trust me that you won't know they're around but I'll feel better knowing that you've got some support just in case that fucker starts anything."
"Um, I guess that's necessary. I hadn't had time to really think about that asshole. Bob and I have been very busy and the party took a lot of time. But I appreciate your concern."
"You're a valuable asset, and Bob will become one as well, but I'd like to think that we all will become friends, in time. Rod feels the same way." Nick looked into Drew's eyes and nodded.
"Nick, I'd like that, too, and I'm not blowing smoke. I guess the big challenge is to keep any friendship and work separate."
"Good answer. By the way, I didn't realize that Bob's sister is the woman engaged to Al Bromley, Jr."
"That's the way that Bob and I met. Trish, Al and Bob were over for the big engagement proposal weekend and I helped facilitate their plans. I guess you could say that Mr. Harrington and I naturally gravitated to each other," Drew said with a sly smile.
"It's pretty obvious that you two are very tight. And I imagine that you understand that Rod and I have a great relationship. Maybe after the craziness of Super Bowl in a couple of months, Rod and I can have a cocktail party and introduce you two to some of our male friends. We've got a terrific support group of guys from ages younger than you to a few old farts in their 50's," Nick said with a chuckle. "When we're out socially, we check job titles at the door. Our friends range from CEO's to a cute couple who are dancers at the Tropic. In fact, they were at your party."
"We'd like to expand our lives socially. I'll pass our conversation on to Bob, if you don't mind?"
"Not a problem," Nick replied as he looked at his watch. "Whoops, gotta get home to the other half. I wanted to let you know, Drew, that we've got you guys' back covered on Bosco. The extra guards will be in place tomorrow." He signed the check and rose to leave.
"Yeah, getting that creep outta our hair is priority number one." Drew stood to join Nick and offered his hand. "I really look forward to doing a great job for you."
"I have no doubts, buddy." Nick gently slapped Drew's back and walked away.
After parking in the assigned covered parking slots, Bob and Drew slowly walked along the paved path to the front door of their apartment.
"You musta put away three slices of prime rib," Drew said. Both guys were carrying their gym bags containing sweat-drenched workout clothes.
"I told you that I was ready for a pig-out. You didn't do too bad at the Chinese table...and, pizza...and the seafood," Bob replied with a laugh.
"Okay, okay, I give. We both needed an evening at the buffet trough." With no one in sight, Drew placed his hand on the small of Bob's back and kissed him lightly on the neck.
"Umm, I like. But it's back to the training table, tomorrow." Bob smiled while they turned the corner and continued up to their front door. "I got the door." Bob shifted his gym bag to the other hand and withdrew his keys from his pocket.
"I can hardly wait for dessert, babe. I'm going to..."
"Do what, fuck face?" came a menacing voice from behind.
Bob and Drew both turned at the same time to see the image of a guy holding a gun. The blond hair and mustache threw Drew off for a moment. His eyes got larger when he realized that the altered appearance belonged to Trent Bosco.
"Whoa, Trent. Put that gun away. You might hurt someone," Drew said in a slow, steady tone. "Let's talk about this." 'Holy shit,' Drew thought, 'there is a definite crazy stare in his eyes.' He also noticed that Bosco was carrying a bag.
"Let's talk inside. Open the door and be sure to turn off the alarm. Move pretty boy...fast," Bosco said to Bob.
Bob looked at Drew, nodded and turned the key. He opened the door and walked inside. Drew turned on the hall light and moved further in to allow their uninvited guest inside. Bosco closed the door and motioned to the security keypad. Without saying anything, Drew reached over and punched in the code. Within seconds, the green light came on.
"Well, I'm together with my two favorite cocksuckers...again. Kind of a reunion to celebrate how you fucked up my life."
"Bosco, come on. You brought that on yourself. You wanted to do stuff to me sexually that I didn't want." Bob looked at Bosco with a mixed expression of fear, curiosity and disgust.
"Don't tell me that shit," Bosco yelled. He slapped Bob hard with his backhand. Bob fell backwards and had to steady himself from falling. "Drew, baby, help Bobbie boy to your bedroom. Tonight we're going to get to know each other...very well," he ordered, waving the handgun.
"Bosco, I don't think that..."
"You're not allowed to think. Now, move." Bosco watched as Drew turned Bob and gently nudged him forward down the hallway.
They entered the bedroom and stood in the middle of the room. 'Now's not the time to be a hero,' Drew thought.
"Okay, boys, stand apart from each other, start stripping and don't turn around. One false move and a bullet will find its way into your body. Throw your clothes and shoes into a pile in the corner."
Drew toed off his shoes and kicked them away. He shrugged and grimaced when he caught Bob's attention. Drew nodded and started to remove his shirt. 'I don't know if you can read minds, babe,' he thought, 'but let's try to string this out as long as we can. We are in deep doo-doo.'
Bob seemed to pick up on Drew's body language. After getting his shoes off, he slowly reached down and took off one sock at a time. He grabbed the top button of his shirt and paused before starting the routine of unbuttoning.
"Come on, bitches. I don't have all night. Speed it up," Bosco barked as he unzipped his gym bag. He turned the bag upside down and let the contents spill on the carpet. The clank of metal caused Drew to turn. "Look straight ahead, Reichardt."
Drew started breathing harder as he threw his shirt into the corner and unbuckled his belt. Bob mimicked Drew's move and soon his shirt joined the pile. Almost in unison they unzipped their pants and stepped out of them. 'That guy is one sick puppy,' Drew considered, when he saw on the carpet what Bosco had brought with him. 'Shit. Handcuffs, butt plugs, chains, small whips...man this is not going to be a happy night.'
"Get out of those briefs, pronto." Bosco chuckled when the guys were finally down to nothing. "You two are hot, I'll say that much. Okay, turn so you are facing each other."
Bob remained motionless as Drew rotated to face his lover. He looked into Bob's eyes and tried to communicate hope that someone would come to the rescue. He heard a clank of chain below him.
"What's this, Bosco? Your portable chamber of horrors?" Drew asked with an icy, contemptuous tone.
"You might enjoy it. I've long suspected that you're a real leather queen slave. Each of you secure the clamps around your ankles. I want to hear four distinct clicks of the locks."
The two lovers slowly bent down and affixed the clamps and locking mechanism to their ankles. 'Fuck,' Drew thought, 'this has all the makings of a bad dom-sub porno flick.' The three feet of chain didn't give them too much freedom.
"Okay, here's the deal. I'm going to give you two unlocked handcuffs, Drew. I want you to secure one end of each handcuff to Bob's wrist. No funny business...I'm pretty good at firing a weapon." Bosco gave the handcuffs to Drew one at a time. After they were secured on Bob, Bosco silently motioned for Drew to attach one of the handcuffs to his wrist. When that was accomplished, Bosco attached the second set to Drew's free wrist.
"What's going to happen to us, Bosco?" Drew asked suddenly. He was beginning to lose his well-trained patience.
"What's going to happen will start in just a few minutes. This is going to be a long evening, boys." Bosco laughed and reached down to his pile of toys.
While Bosco was rummaging through the equipment, Drew leaned in and slowly licked Bob's lips. Bob's mouth opened and they kissed quietly. For a moment, the tension of the evening faded as the two physically offered comfort to one another.
They pulled back and Bob silently mouthed, "I love you."
Drew formed the words, "Me, too," and smiled ruefully. 'Man,' he thought, watching Bosco grip a large, black dildo, 'we are screwed...in more ways than one.'