Signed, Your Deadly Admirer by Aver Rigsly
General Release Date: 27th December 2022
Word Count: 46,089
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
From number-one fan to number-one threat.
Ricky Morris, ex-cop turned private investigator for the elite Manhattanites of New York’s Upper East Side, came close to ending up on the slab when the St. Valentine’s Day murderer had him staring point-blank down the barrel of their gun.
Thankfully, NYPD officer Timothy Ward was there to save his neck and bring the murderer down. While Ricky and Timothy proved they could work well together in the shadows, their undeniable and dangerous passion for each other is leading to a forbidden relationship—the kind that Ricky promised himself he would never get tangled up in again.
Breaking it off with Timothy is hard to do though, and Ricky finds himself needing his help once again in a new case. The most famous burlesque dancer in Manhattan, Ms. Faye Fontaine—the Parisian Princess—has been receiving letters from a secret admirer…increasingly sinister letters, and Ricky knows all too well how these things play out.
Will Ricky and Timothy be able to work together and find out whose obsession has become deadly, or will the rampant heat of their forbidden feelings bring them down in flames before they can save the girl?
Reader advisory: This book contains period-typical attitudes, including slurs, and toward casual sex (no condoms m/m). There is on-page gunplay, and slow-burn MCs over course of series.
“Where on earth are you taking us, Ricky?”
“Have a bit of faith. I know exactly where I’m going.”
Timothy gave him a skeptical look from the passenger seat of Ricky’s Starlight Coupe. “Are you even allowed to drive down here? Isn’t this private property?”
“I know the fella that owns the building. He’s down in Tampa, enjoying the sun while he waits for the city to get the demolition papers in order for this old shoe factory. Nobody will even know we’re here.”
Ricky drove them through the abandoned parking lot behind the massive, derelict four-story building down by the Williamsburg Bridge in the Lower East Side. The place, Orson’s shoe factory, was right on the East River, facing the waterfront. While the dockyards up the river a ways were bustling with freight ships and hollering longshoremen working the graveyard shift, down here was eerily quiet and empty.
Ricky snuck the automobile through rusty shipping containers at the back of the factory’s parking lot and drove the Starlight down a narrow gravel path that brought them to a small clearing above the shoreline of the river, which was about fifty yards out from them. The water was at its highest, save for when storms blew angry breakers in off the Atlantic, but now the weather was calm, and the sky and water were perfectly clear. The heavy full moon hung low in the sky, beginning its nightly journey across the sky, and Ricky put the car in park and smiled, pleased with himself.
“Not too shabby, huh?”
“Holy moley.” Timothy gasped. He leaned forward in his seat to take in the view. Across the river, the Brooklyn skyline spread out in front of them, lit up with the hundreds of tiny twinkling lights of thriving New Yorkers. The occasional freightliner drifted upriver, making its way to the docks, but the water was nearly calm elsewise, reflecting the city lights like sparkling diamonds floating in the water.
This place was a cute little spot, if one didn’t mind the crumbling eyesore of a building behind them.
“This view is stunning,” Timothy whispered.
Ricky killed the engine and turned to Timothy so he could admire the view he had right here in his own car.
Timothy was neatly dressed in his usual navy-blue winter coat, but his mustard-yellow scarf and mittens were sitting beside him on the seat, thanks to the Starlight’s heaters. March was just ringing in, but the city was still cold and dreary.
In like a lion, out like a lamb. That was the old saying, and Timothy was a sweet little lamb himself. His short brown hair was trimmed and parted neatly on the right side, showing off the delicate, slender features of his face. His straight nose and high cheekbones, clean shaven cheeks and supple pink lips… Ricky admired them all, but perhaps not as much as Timothy’s bright green eyes, which were twinkling with the city lights spread out before them. There was just that refreshing boyish charm that radiated from Timothy that drew Ricky right to him like a moth to a flame, or perhaps a hungry wolf to an innocent doe.
Timothy finally glanced over and caught Ricky staring, so Ricky gave him a wicked grin.
“Yeah, the view’s pretty nifty,” he agreed.
Timothy laughed, shaking his head. He looked back out of the window, but Ricky caught the smile still on his face.
“You are certainly full of surprises,” Timothy said.
“Well, how about another one.” Ricky reached inside the front of his jacket and pulled out a flask from his pocket. “Care for a drink?”
“Do you carry that everywhere?” Timothy asked, chuckling.
“It’s tempting, but no. I just planned ahead for this little nightcap.” Ricky unscrewed the top and handed it to Timothy. “Have a sip, in honor of a lovely night.”
Ricky had been looking forward to getting Timothy out for a night alone, ever since the last time Timothy had visited his office. Earlier in the evening, Ricky had picked Timothy up at his apartment after his shift at the precinct and taken him downtown to a diner beside Washington Square Park to get some hamburgers and coffee. The grub had been decent, tasty and great for only a buck-fifty, but Ricky had been looking forward to this part of the evening, when there weren’t any prying eyes and he could get Timothy out of that timid shell of his.
“What is it?” Timothy asked, taking the flask.
“Just some gin. It’s good for the stomach. Give it a try.”
Timothy took a sip, careful but not stingy. He had a harder time swallowing it, his face pulling into a disgusted look for a second before he managed the burn of the liquor and took a deep breath.
“Was it really that bad?” Ricky asked, trying to keep a smile off his face.
“Actually, now that it’s down, it wasn’t the worst.”
Ricky laughed despite himself and took the flask back from Timothy.
“You know, I was wondering if you really were gonna call me,” Timothy said as Ricky took his own sip.
“Well, after what happened a few weeks ago…” Timothy left it at that, but Ricky read him loud and clear. To say that the circumstances in which Ricky and Timothy had met had been less than ideal was doing the whole crazy situation an injustice.
Timothy Ward had strolled into Ricky’s Upper East Side apartment-turned-office seeking his skills as a private eye a few days before Valentine’s Day, worried that his brother, James Ward, Deputy Chief of the Manhattan North Detective Bureau and Ricky’s old partner, was responsible for the recent string of murders hitting young, single women working for the massive chocolate factory, Darling Confectionaries.
Ricky had been far more interested in digging up the perfect piece of dirt on James than helping Timothy find who was behind the boxes of poisoned Valentine’s chocolates, but in the end, James’s wife, Primrose Darling, heiress to the Darling Confectionaries fortune, had been the sinister mind behind the murders. Ricky had stared down the barrel of her revolver for Christ’s sake, before James and Timothy had found them during the grand Valentine’s Ball, hearing Prim confess to the whole thing.
Ricky had been lucky, damn lucky. True, him planning and bringing his Minifon portable recorder had probably saved his hide and been the last nail in the coffin for Prim’s freedom as an innocent dame, but even he had to admit that it had been a little too close for comfort, coming that close to ending up on the slab himself.
Yet, the insanity of that case aside, his curiosity and fascination with Timothy hadn’t dwindled. If anything, watching Timothy dip his toes into the shady side of private investigating—snooping around in dark alleys and infiltrating an illegal queer club to gather information—had only piqued Ricky’s interest that much more.
That, and the fact that Timothy had been a fucking sight to see in the bedroom. Ricky had been able to get Timothy into bed long enough for him to get his first taste of him, swallowing his cock down until Timothy was a squirming mess and Ricky got to jerk them both off together.
That had been as far as they had gotten. Usually, Ricky was one to rush right to home base. He had a long list of one-night stands in his past, more than he cared to admit if he was honest with himself. But once he had found out that young, sweet, almost painfully innocent Timothy Ward was a virgin, giving Ricky those hungry, eager doe eyes of his in the booth of the queer joint, the Amethyst Lounge, Ricky had wanted him like all the others. Yet he’d also been wary of dragging Timothy down into the pits of hell with him.
Timothy still had his whole career on the force ahead of him, unlike Ricky who had tossed all that away with the foolish mistake of getting caught red-handed behind a similar queer joint, three-sheets to the wind with his tongue down some random John’s throat.
Yet, even knowing all the pitfalls and dangers that could come with it, Ricky had still called Timothy up and asked if he was interested in meeting him for some greasy diner food and to discuss that invoice Ricky had for him. Of course, Ricky wasn’t really going to charge the kid after all that happened, but it had been the perfect excuse for seeing him again.
What could Ricky say? He never was one for doing what was best for him, and when it came to a sexy young piece like Timothy? Ricky was a sucker for the cute ones.
“I’ve been in worse scrapes than that,” Ricky said, passing the flask back to Timothy. “And what about you? I was surprised that you accepted my invitation. Does James know where you stepped out to this evening?”
Timothy frowned. “No. He’s not my mother.”
“I didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers. I just know how overbearing he is.”
“Yeah, well…” Timothy shrugged and sipped the gin. “I guess that’s just how older brothers can be.”
“Sure, I suppose.”
“What about you?”
“Do you have any siblings? Any family?”
“No, no,” Ricky said, shaking his head.
“But what about your parents?”
“I grew up with my old man. He was a real piece of work. My ma skipped town right after I was born supposedly, so he was stuck raising me. He did the best he could really, but he was nearly always gone. He worked all these long hours at the steel mill, down here by Seaport.”
“And where is he now?”
“Over in Queens, in the Calvary Cemetery. He dropped dead on the line, right in the middle of his shift when I was nineteen. To be honest, it was a miracle he made it to the ripe old age of fifty-nine, considering the man drank like a fish every waking hour of the day.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Don’t be,” Ricky replied, handing the flask back to him. “I don’t have any family or nothing, but at least I’ve had Liz. She’s been my best friend for eight years. She keeps me in line. Well, as best as she can.”
“And what about boyfriends? You mentioned you had some nasty exes.”
“Yes. At the Amethyst Lounge.”
“Well…to be fair there was mainly only one. Things didn’t end very well between us, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles in the end for fellas like me.”
“Some people are meant to walk alone, I guess.”
“That’s a foolish thought,” Timothy said with a laugh.
“Really? Why’s that?”
“Well, it’s human nature to want companionship.”
“Wanting it and deserving it are two different things.”
Timothy shook his head, giving Ricky the last swig in the flask. “Everyone deserves love.”
Ricky bit his tongue. Love. What did young Timothy, virgin at twenty-four, know of love? Ricky had a feeling Timothy’s head was still full of childish fairytales. Queer guys like Ricky didn’t get to have a happily-ever-after with gold wedding bands and quaint suburban houses with white picket fences.
Those were never in the cards for Ricky, and never would be.
Yet he didn’t want to get into that kind of talk tonight, not when he was feeling good after an evening of cheap, tasty burgers and fine gin with even finer company.
“Here,” Ricky said, handing the flask back to Timothy. “Have the last shot, in honor of our strange meeting, and of our pretty swell evening.”
Timothy took the offer and gave a shy smile. “To us.”
“To us,” Ricky agreed. He watched Timothy drink the last sip, and when he pulled the flask away, Ricky couldn’t help but stare at his shiny lips and the tip of his pink tongue that peeked out to lick his bottom lip. That was the last straw, and Ricky’s polite patience went flying right out the window.
He leaned over and stole a kiss from Timothy, who sucked in a surprised breath through his nose before he melted into the kiss and opened his mouth for Ricky when Ricky’s tongue teased the seam of his gorgeous, supple lips. The empty flask was abandoned somewhere on the seat and Timothy immediately grabbed the lapels of Ricky’s jacket, tugging him even closer.
Ricky was happy to comply. He snuck a hand around the back of Timothy’s neck, scraping his nails teasingly at the base of Timothy’s skull, earning a cute little moan against his lips.
Ricky’s blood felt like it was slowly creeping to a boil, and he couldn’t use the few sips of liquor as an excuse either. He hadn’t had a lick of action since the last time he and Timothy had been together. It had been two long and grueling weeks with just his hand for company, so he had been thinking about kissing Timothy all night. Heck, he’d been thinking about that since their last stolen moment together in Ricky’s office.
The wait was turning out to be well worth it, especially if Ricky could keep getting reactions out of Timothy like that one. One thing was for sure, kissing Timothy was just as fantastic as he remembered. Timothy had been a quick learner and he gave just as good as he got, eager to keep up with the playful exploration of Ricky’s tongue. Ricky was eager himself, trying to taste that lovely mix of gin and Timothy’s tongue and lips and chasing it down until Timothy had to pull back, desperate for a breath.
Ricky wasn’t through with him yet, however. He trailed a line of kisses along the smooth line of Timothy’s jaw until he reached the left side of his neck. He knew very well how sensitive Timothy was there, that particular spot right behind his ear. Ricky tried not to bump his nose against the bit of plastic hearing aid hooked behind Timothy’s ear and went to town, gently nibbling and lapping at the soft skin.
Timothy shivered in his hold, tipping his head to give Ricky more skin to attack and letting out a shuddering breath. His voice was breathy when he whimpered, “Oh God, Ricky. Fuck. Please don’t stop.”
Hearing one of Timothy’s rare curses was like adding fuel to the fire. Ricky wished he could suck a deep red bruise onto the side of his neck, marking him as Ricky’s for the fleeting time being, but even that much was far too risky. Instead, Ricky left Timothy’s neck, though Timothy did let out a needy groan at the loss of attention to his favorite spot, but it changed to a pleased sort of sound instead when Ricky kissed his lips to make up for it.
To his surprise though, Timothy broke the kiss, but he didn’t let go of Ricky’s jacket, nor did he pull too far away. He was staring at Ricky’s lips, obviously torn with wanting more, yet he apparently had something he wanted to say.
“You know,” he began, fingers playing with the edges of Ricky’s lapels. “If you wanted another drink, we could always go back to your place. I can just take a cab back home later.”
That was an interesting idea. It was the weekend after all, and Ricky knew that Timothy was hoping for more than just another drink, which sounded A-OK to him. A shiver ran down Ricky’s spine at the thought of how much further he could get with Timothy tonight.
Oh, the possibilities.
“I could use another drink, if you’re feeling up for it, honey. How about we blow this place?”
The endearment brought a hint of blush to Timothy’s cheeks, but he nodded, nonetheless. Ricky gave him a teasing wink and got the Starlight’s engine going again.
A nagging voice at the back of Ricky’s head tried to remind him that the longer he kept this little affair with Timothy going, the messier it would be to end things. Yeah, he might just be thinking with his prick tonight, he could admit that much, but fuck it. Why couldn’t they have a little fun today, fool around for a while, get their rocks off then call it a night?
That was all this had to be.
Ricky eased the Starlight away from the riverbank, through the lot of the abandoned shoe factory, and back uptown toward his apartment on the Upper East Side. Timothy shifted in his seat, getting comfortable for the drive, and Ricky hoped traffic would be on his side tonight.