Gangster Country by Kade Boehme
Logan Marshall moves to New York to be a social worker where he feels he's needed most. Logan's always had it good. His Daddy is a preacher, sure, but he preaches a laid back, tolerant congregation who accepted Logan's sexuality gracefully. He's from a ranch in nowhere, Texas, which makes him a hot ticket in the clubs with his tight, work strengthened body and his cute accent. He's out of his element in New York, not looking for Mr. Right Now but Mr. Right.
Gianni Rodriguez grew up in Brooklyn. Nothing could be further from the way he was raised than innocent, good hearted Logan was. Gianni is fascinated that people like Logan even exist. And parents that not only are God-fearing, but also accepting?
As second in command of Los Cuervos, his brother's not-so-merry band of drug runners and pimps, Gianni's life would be in serious jeopardy if anyone ever knew the truth. That's why his growing attachment for Logan is a bad thing.
When Logan's work collides violently with Gianni's life, Gianni has to decide if the man is worth risking everything, even his family-- the man that may not even want him once he realizes what a monster the man he's been sleeping with really is. Could Logan be Gianni's reason to go straight? Or will they both go straight to an unmarked grave?
“Daddy, I’m fine. Would y’all stop worrying?” Logan attempted to assure his father
“Well, you know how your Mama is. She’s missing her baby and afraid that big city is gonna eat you up.” Logan would have called his father on that blatant bullshit, but his Mama got there first.
“Now, Nicholas Marshall you sure do lie real fancy for a preacher man.” Logan laughed at his father’s grunt, then heard shuffling and his mother’s mumbled “pain in my butt” as she took the phone. “Logan, honey, don’t you listen to your Daddy. He’s been whining for a week. You know you can’t go so long without calling home.”
Logan sighed. He knew his parents worried, but what grown man called home every day.
“Mama, I said I’d try to call once a week,” Logan pointed out.
“Well, you miss your Sunday call and your Daddy has been ticking off the ways you could have been hurt on his fingers. You know his heart ain’t good, child.”
“Mama, I have a job that requires a lot of my time.” And Logan wasn’t kidding. He’d moved to New York City to go where his degree in Social Work was needed. He knew there were places closer to his home in Texas, but after trying to balance helping his daddy on the ranch and working for their hometown welfare office, he’d lost his mind.
He needed a change, and if he was going to make a drastic one, it needed to be somewhere that really needed him. So when his resume was accepted by New York State’s Department of Children and Families in Manhattan, he’d jumped on it. His parents had flipped when they’d heard the main area he’d be working in was Spanish Harlem, but Logan loved it. The area was exactly what he’d been looking for. The cases were challenging, sometimes downright hard as hell to handle, but he was happy to help. He’d stepped into chaos, and it hadn’t been even close to sorted out in the year he’d been in the city.
“Just like your Daddy, I swear. Gonna work yourself into an early grave, the both of you.”
“Mama, it’d be just as busy if I’d gone to San Antonio or Dallas.”
“But you’d have been closer to home,” she said in that tone that was created just to put guilt in Logan’s heart.
“We’ve been over this. They didn’t call me back until I’d already moved, and I’d have been working twice as hard, because Daddy would have had me pulling projects on the ranch on the weekends, on top of my case load.”
“Are you sure this wasn’t just to get out of the ranch? You know your daddy would have backed off if you’d just told him.”
Logan hated for his mom to even ask that, but it was the millionth time he’d heard the question in some form or another. No, he hadn’t wanted to leave the ranch. He loved the small town in the Texas panhandle where he’d grown up. For all the crap people talk about the area, he’d actually had a great time growing up with the open fields and the horses. He’d been raised by wonderful parents. They’d had Logan later in life -- Mama a teacher and Daddy a preacher, as well as a rancher. He’d never had a hard time with his sexuality, and neither had his parents. Kids in his school had been harsh at times, but he’d found refuge with his church friends. His Daddy preached at Mt. Vernon’s Methodist. Their church was as liberal as it got in small town Texas,other than the one two counties south with a gay pastor at the head.
All in all, life had been good, and he knew he had many reasons to be thankful.
“Mama, you and Daddy taught me to work hard, have empathy for others and to go where I was called. This has been my calling and I’ve been fulfilled doing it. I miss y’all, but this is a good thing.”
She sighed into the phone. “If I didn’t know you had that big ol’ heart of gold beating in that chest of yours I’d think you were just buttering me up. You’re about as smooth with your words as your Daddy, I tell you. Both of you are trouble.”
Logan snorted. One thing he’d never been called was trouble by anyone other than his mama. He was the good kid who never smoked or skipped a class, and always attended bible study and did mission trips. Now, he was no saint, but his family wasn’t that kind of Christian. His parents knew he’d enjoyed his partying in college, but neither cared much, having been a pair of honest-to-goodness hippies back in their college days. They had even met some of the boyfriends he’d had in college, which they always called “fixer-uppers”. Logan was chronically addicted to guys who probably weren’t good people, but Logan could see the heart of the child they’d once been and refused to give up on anyone. Problem was, they were usually closet cases, and that’d never turned out well.
Logan’s roommates, Cole and Emma, wandered out of their rooms, laughing until they saw Logan still on the phone. They both made exasperated noises and pointed to their wrists to indicate the time. Logan pulled his phone away from his ear and grimaced. “Hey, Mama, tell Daddy I love him. But I gotta git. Me, Cole and Emma are headed out.” And Logan wasn’t missing a night out. He’d been working in some way for the last two weeks, so this was the first night he’d be able to stay out late, and have the next day off to recover. Not that Emma and Cole would have let him out of going out tonight, anyways. They were as bad as his mama, fussing about how much he worked and how he was never able to enjoy the city.
“We sure are glad you could fit your old folks into your busy social calendar,” his mother teased. He wondered if it was teasing, though. And if they thought he had any semblance of a social life, they were sadly mistaken.
“Mama…” He sighed.
“I know, I know. I’m just teasing you, honey. Y’all go out and have fun. Tell those roommates of yours we said hi and I’m sending up some more preserves.”
Logan’s roommates loved his mother’s preserves. His mother wasn’t really all that domestic, but she loved gardening and putting together her preserves. She said it didn’t make her feel as old as if she’d taken up crocheting like her mother. And Grandma Velma was always clicking those needles with a fierceness.
“Okay, Mama. Love you. Have a good night.”
“You too, honey. Use condoms!”
“Mama!” Logan’s cheeks heated. His mother was a health teacher, so he’d heard it many times, but for her to know that’s exactly what he was headed out to do always made his face burn with embarrassment. His mama chuckled into the phone, and he rang off with a grunt that sounded just a bit too much like his daddy for Logan’s taste.
Cole, dressed in his tightest pants and smallest Sorry Girls I Suck Dick t-shirt, delightedly bounced up and down. “Did she have the condom talk again? I love it when she has the condom talk. Your face gets so red.”
“Shut up, Cole.” Emma and Logan said at the same time, getting a pout from Cole’s plump, glossed lips. Logan had never considered hooking up with Cole, but the man was beautiful. He was city elegant to Logan’s down home good looks, and he was confident enough to know it. Then there was Emma, who was dressed to the nines in a little black dress, with a dangerously low neckline and heels that Logan had a hard time imagining her dancing in.
“Ready to go?” Emma asked, looking in the mirror hanging on the living room wall, coiffing her sleek, black mane.
“Let me get some shoes and we’re out of here,” Logan said, feeling the giddiness of a night out sinking into his pores. It’d been at least a month since he’d had time to really go out, and he intended to have a good night. Hopefully, he’d be having a really good night.
Gianni Rodriguez had let his friend Marco talk him into a lot of stupid, boring ideas but this one was the most stupid and the most boring yet. Gianni did not fit in with the yuppies at this loft party in Manhattan. Hell, he wouldn’t fit in at any loft party. Yeah, he was gay, and this party was full of gay men and their hags, but this was not his scene at all.
Marco looked wonderful. In his silk shirt and black slacks, he fit in with the gallery owners and schmoozing artists. Marco had assured him this wouldn’t be a bullshit night, and that Gianni was sure to meet someone interesting, but Gianni wasn’t sure that was going to happen. The crowd was overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly upper crust. Gianni felt like an idiot in his baggy jeans and his nicest polo. He was vastly underdressed, and Marco hadn’t even warned him when they’d met up.
Marco meant well, like every other time he invited Gianni to go along somewhere. They’d been friends as long as he could remember, having grown up in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn. They came from similar backgrounds, though Marco was one-hundred percent Italian, while Gianni was only half. Gianni’s Italian mother married his Puerto Rican father, so to the white-bred party-goers, Gianni looked more like a street thug than one of their own. You are a street thug, Gianni reminded himself.
Marco, on the other hand, fit in easily. But Marco had made it out of the neighborhood after high school, which had been fine with Gianni. Marco was not only Gianni’s only friend who hadn’t been sucked into the life, he was also his only gay friend. They’d only ever revealed this fact to each other and Gianni’s cousin, Wendy. Marco was Gianni’s escape. No one questioned when Gianni and Marco went out on the town looking for tail, that tail being decidedly male. None of the other guys wandered into Manhattan where Marco lived now, much less the gay clubs they visited together. After Marco graduated from college, he’d stayed on the Island and developed quite the gay social group, one he kept trying to pull Gianni into. But the looks Gianni got and his less than desirable lifestyle made him highly incompatible with all of Marco’s buddies.
Gianni wanted to ditch the party, if it weren’t for Marco’s excitement. Like every party, Marco promised this would be the one. The one where Gianni would make a friend that would inspire him to change his wicked ways. Poor, deluded Marco. It was nice to be the real Gianni for a night, though, just kicking back, turning off the criminal lurking in his mind, and spending time around people who weren’t carrying a piece in their waist band.
Gianni wandered over to the wet bar for the umpteenth time, receiving a sympathetic smile from the female bartender who’d been leering at him all night. She’d obviously pegged him as the one straight man, and between his clothes to his bored attitude he figured she had reason, though she was very wrong. She flirted with him a little as she passed him a drink. He coolly ignored her advances, receiving a pout that was so skillful, he wanted to just say “I’m gay, fuck off.” He couldn’t remember ever openly saying those two words and he wouldn’t waste his first time on a horny cocktail waitress. He usually just got the point across when he bent a guy over a table, which sounded really good about now.
Damn that Marco, Gianni thought as he turned from the bar, cocktail in hand. That cocktail gracefully flew through the air as a queeny little shit ran straight into Gianni because he was too busy gesticulating with his hands to pay attention to where he was going. Gianni growled, and the guy stopped still. Gianni stopped scowling when he saw those pillowy lips and the slender body of the smaller man, who now had both hands on one of Gianni’s arms, apologizing profusely. He was cute. Gianni could definitely see owning this guy tonight, and the gleam in the guy’s eyes said he wanted Gianni to do just that.
“I’m so sorry,” the guy said with a seductive lilt then lickint his glossy lips, smiling coyly at Gianni. Gianni thought those lips would look much better wrapped around Gianni’s eight inches.
“It’s all good,” Gianni used his most street-wise swag, sensing the guy was digging the whole hombre vibe. Gianni knew it should annoy him more that guys wanted him for the fantasy of being with the Latino Gangster, but hey, if it got him balls deep in that throat, he’d play it up.
“Let me get you another drink,” the guy ran a finger down Gianni’s forearm.
Gianni smiled seductively at him, and shamelessly ran his eyes up and down the sexy young thing. Those tight pants and too-small t-shirt did wonders for Gianni’s cock and the guy didn’t miss a beat as he brushed up against Gianni, putting a bit of shake to his pert ass as he requested the bartender give him two of whatever Gianni was having. The woman rolled her eyes at them both, finally catching on. See, they always figured out.
“Guess that leaves me on my own,” a voice mumbled from behind Gianni. The man wasn’t talking to him, and Gianni really didn’t want to peel his eyes away from the twink’s tight ass, but he decided to at least look apologetic to the guy whose— date?—Gianni was now stealing.
Gianni had only thought the twink was who he wanted for tonight. But goddamn! His friend was the real deal. You really couldn’t even compare the two. It was almost a game of eeny-meeny-miny-homo in Gianni’s mind. Did he want to own that sexy little twink or did farm boy here need to be shown exactly who was in charge? The farm boy was an inch taller than Gianni’s five-feet-eleven and was built sturdy. Those lips were as pillowy as the twink’s, but they were harder around the edges Those eyes, though. Fuck. Gianni had never seen such an interesting color of green. It wasn’t bright. They were like a sea-foam or mossy green that stood out among thick black lashes, matching the so-dark-brown-it-was-black hair.
Farm boy caught Gianni’s appraisal and scowled. “No.”
Gianni shook his head, confused. “’No’, what?”
“We don’t do threesomes,” Farm Boy said drily. Holy shit, that deep southern accent.
Gianni gave his cockiest grin. The guy gave him a hard glare. Oh, farm boy has balls. I like him.
“Well, who said I needed three?” Gianni drawled.
“Dude, he saw you first. And if you’re trying to play friends against each other I don’t think you’re much my type anyways.” Damn, but farm boy was cute when he was being judgmental. Gianni raked his eyes over Farm Boy much as he’d done with the twink. Farm boy’s jaw ticked, and he started smoothing his green and blue plaid shirt. He made plaid look fucking sexy.
“What does him seeing me first have anything to do with me wanting you more?”
“It’s called bro-code, asshole,” the twink said bitchily, passing Gianni his drink and rolling his eyes. Oops. Twink took Farm Boy’s arms and said, “Forget it.” Gianni was stunned as they both walked off. He’d never been turned down by a bro-code. Yeah, he’d had friends scrap over him once or twice, and that went straight to his cock, right before both friends settled it by both hitting their knees for him. He wasn’t an asshole really, but getting laid was hard enough in his line of work, so he had to take whatever he could when they offered it.
A hand landed on Gianni’s shoulder, and he turned to Marco who was laughing at him.
“You dog, you fucked that one up good.”
“Fuck off, Marco.”
“I tell you to make friends, and you go trying to get another cat fight started in your honor.”
“Well, they didn’t bite did they?” Marco huffed, annoyed, and downed his whiskey and coke in three gulps. “When can I blow this joint?”
“Oh, hell no. We’ve only been here like an hour.”
“Well, that’s the closest I’ve come, and now that I’ve pissed them off, I’m betting it’s the only one I was gonna get.”
“That dude in the plaid got you good, huh?” Marco laughed again. Gianni just glared at him. “You’ve never been dismissed like that. It was a thing of beauty, I tell you.” Fucking Marco.
“Yeah, whatever. I’m out of here.” Gianni sucked down his drink, set his empty rocks glass down on one of the bistro tables scattered around the loft for that purpose, and shook Marco off. Marco laughed and called his name but Marco didn’t turn back as he made his way out of the loft and into the elevator.
He was almost settled in for the ride down as a familiar voice yelled, “Hold the door!” Gianni obliged, but he sure wasn’t getting any thanks from Farm Boy. He got a glare. “I’ll catch the next one,” Farm Boy said with that damn dry tone that still sounded sexy in that accent.
Gianni glared right back. “Just get on the fucking elevator. I won’t bite, white boy.”
Farm boy glared for a moment, but the elevator started buzzing, so he let out a huff and stepped on. Gianni leaned against the opposite wall from the guy and looked him over again. Damn could Farm Boy wear a pair of jeans. Thick thighs and a firm ass were easy to see in the worn pair of honest-to-goodness Levi’s. Where did this chulo come from?
“Your friend find another dick?” Gianni asked tactlessly.
Farm boy just glared. Gianni put his hands up in defeat. “Hey, no talking. I get it.”
They had twelve floors to go down, and it seemed like it was taking forever. Gianni noticed a couple of times that Farm Boy would glance at him from the side of his eye. Gianni smiled. When the doors opened to the lobby, Gianni put his hand on Farm Boy’s arm, firm enough to stop him but not so hard as to be threatening. He turned with a scowl.
“Hey, Farm Boy, let me make it up to you.” What the hell are you doing?
“What?” the guy asked incredulously. Gianni wasn’t sure himself. He was like a fiend, though. The guy was sexy and ballsy. Gianni had never wanted to chase someone, and it’s not like he could offer any more than a good time, but he thought a night with Farm Boy might be worth the extra effort. He had this guileless look that Gianni never saw in…. well, he couldn’t remember seeing it ever, honestly. He felt like a vampire trying to drain a little of the guy’s innocence for himself, but he had to have some, like a drug promising a better tomorrow. It’d wear off, but tonight, that’d be okay.
“I was a tool. Let me make it up to you. Plus, there’s better shit to do in this town.”
Farm Boy looked like he wanted to say no, but Gianni gave his flirtiest smile. “I know a place with good music and beer in red solo cups. If you find a better offer, you’re welcome to ditch me.”
Again, Farm Boy just stood there studying Gianni. He rolled his eyes and grimaced after a really cute gamut of emotions played across his face. “Okay. But I’m not saying I’m sleeping with you, okay? I wanted a night out, and my damn roomies ditched me.”
“Assholes.” Gianni smiled teasingly at the guy. You’re teasing him. Really? Gianni didn’t recognize himself for a second.
“Yeah, well, someone’s gotta get laid, I guess.” Farm Boy looked annoyed.
“Well, let’s go, then!” Gianni led farm boy out and hailed a cab.
Gianni would always remember that first night. Farm Boy—Logan, he would later find out— loosened up and they danced and drank cheap beer. Gianni forgot for a minute, in this man’s presence, that he was the dark to Logan’s light.
He didn’t care about this when they ended in Logan’s bed. And, as he slipped out of the apartment that night, he told himself he’d stay away for Logan’s sake. It’s not like Gianni ever did second helpings, ever. Like any drug, though, he knew he was lying if he thought he’d actually be able to stay away.