When Officer Peter Giordano is assigned to keep Trevor Haas safe until he can testify against his murderous father, he expects the hardest part of his job will be keeping his hands off the gorgeous witness. The two men hide out in the small, sleepy town of Honeysuckle, fixing up their dilapidated safe house by day...exploring each other's bodies by night.
Their small-town neighbors have some secrets of their own, however, including one that someone is willing to kill to protect. Soon, a neighbor is dead and Pete and Trevor are thrown into the middle of a murder investigation. The two men struggle to keep Trevor's true identity a secret, knowing his father will stop at nothing to silence the star witness against him--even if that means killing his own son.
Note: Pete and Trevor won't have to go it alone. Wash and Rhodes, the crush-worthy heroes from Private Dicks, are along for the ride once again.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Hide Out by Katie Allen
"Where the fuck are we going?" Trevor couldn't stand it any longer. He and his guard dog had been driving in silence for hours. He'd sworn not to break, to make the square-jawed Boy Scout next to him talk first, but if Trevor saw one more cornfield or cow or piece-of-shit barn, he was going to go nuts.
"We're almost there." The cop didn't even glance at him.
The rage that had been simmering for the past two weeks, ever since the detectives had shown up at his work, heated up a few degrees. "I didn't ask when, asshole," he said slowly and clearly. "I asked where."
Now the cop did glance at him. "Our new home for the next seven months," he non-answered, the corner of his mouth quirking up as he refocused on the road ahead. If the guy hadn't been driving, Trevor would've punched him. Instead, he slouched lower in his seat and stared out the window.
Clearing his throat, the cop broke the silence. "We should probably get our cover stories straight."
Trevor snorted. "Good luck trying to be anything other than a cop with a stick up his ass." When the man's face reddened a little beneath his tan, guilt tugged at Trevor and he frowned, staring out the window. It wasn't this guy's fault Trevor had a homicidal asshole for a father or McDonald and Salas were a couple pit bulls when it came to tracking down their missing star witness. "Sorry," Trevor muttered. "What's the fucking plan then?"
"I th-thought..." The cop paused and Trevor looked at him. His jaw muscles jumped as he stared straight ahead. When he spoke again, the words were distinct, with no hint of a stutter. "We can say we're from Cleveland. No one really knows or cares a lot about Cleveland. I lived there for six months though, so I know enough about it in case someone pushes for details."
"Sure, Cleveland's fine. It rocks, in fact." Trevor sent a sideways glance toward the other man. Although he didn't smile, the cop did seem to relax a little. "Why'd we leave the wonderful city that is Cleveland?"
Now he did smile. "I was a financial advisor until I burned out. We're moving to get a fresh start, so I can figure out what I want to do."
"Huh." Trevor digested that. "So what do I do?"
The cop shrugged. "You get to pick. Something from home would be easiest. Writer, artist, photographer...take your pick. You might want to choose something you know a little bit about though. Those kinds of careers, people like to ask questions."
Trevor thought for a second. "Graffiti artist," he announced.
"Perfect." The cop smiled. "Very trendy."
"So," Trevor said. "We the fucking odd couple or what?"
The cop sent him a puzzled glance. "What?"
With an impatient sigh, Trevor clarified, "Why are we, two manly men, living together?"
The red crept back into the cop's cheeks. "W-we're, um..."
Trevor wanted to laugh. "We're pretending to be gay? A couple?"
"Yeah." The cop shot him an uncertain glance. "You okay with that? We could pretend to be brothers or roommates, I guess."
"Everyone'll just assume we're gay anyway," Trevor said. "Might as well be out."
Silence fell over the pickup. Trevor was fighting to hold back laughter. He hadn't been looking forward to this. In fact, out of the whole shitty past four years, he'd figured the next seven months until the trial would be the worst. Now, however, he was starting to think this might not be so bad.
He snuck another peek of the cop's severe profile and hid a grin. Not bad at all.
After a few minutes, his amusement faded and boredom crept back in.
"Doesn't anyone believe in paint around here?" he muttered. They'd just passed yet another barn that had been battered by years and bad weather, leaving the gray boards exposed except for the odd patch of peeling red paint.
The cop snorted but otherwise didn't respond.
Trevor stole a glance at him, hating the way his pulse accelerated at the hard lines of the cop's face. Everything was hard about the guy--mouth, body, even the abrupt angles of his short haircut. The only softness was the silky gray of his eyes, bordered by thick, dark sweeps of lashes. Ripping his gaze away, he focused on yet another fucking cornfield.
"We're not going to be living on a fucking farm, are we?" He knew he sounded sulky but Trevor didn't care.
Shaking his head, the cop slowed down, pointing out the windshield. "We're living here."
Leaning forward, Trevor followed the path of his finger to the painted sign welcoming them to...
"Honeysuckle?" There was no way. "I'm going to be living in a town called Honey-fucking-suckle?"
The cop grinned. "We're going to be living in Honey-fucking-suckle."
Falling back against the seat, Trevor closed his eyes. "Fuck me," he sighed.
I wish. Pete clamped down on the thought. He had to stay focused, stay professional, or there was no way he was getting through the next seven months.
"C'mon, man," Trevor groaned. "Think of all the great cities out there--Portland, Denver, Austin, Chicago--fuck, I'd even pick fucking Montreal over this small-town bullshit."
"That's the point," Pete told him mildly, glancing at the map displayed above his radio. He'd turned the navigation system's voice commands off hours ago. He couldn't stand the automated chick bitching at him when he had to detour off the directed route to find food or a rest stop.
"What's the point? You want me to be miserable?"
Pete saw Second Street up ahead and slowed to make a left turn. "You prefer cities. Think your father doesn't know that?" He waited for what appeared to be the only other moving vehicle in town to slowly pass them, heading in the opposite direction. "Making you miserable is just a bonus."
Trevor grunted. "What's my name?" he asked out of the blue.
"You forget?" Pete turned again onto Mason Street.
"No dumbass, my undercover name." Trevor sighed with exaggerated patience. "My graffiti-painting, one-half-of-a-token-gay-couple-in-Honey-fucking-suckle name."
"Right. How about your middle name?" Pete suggested.
Shaking his head, Trevor told him, "Wouldn't work--it's Harold."
"What name would you like?" Pete asked. "I don't care, as long as it's not too unusual."
"Patrick?" Trevor suggested with an innocent look.
"No, we're not going to be Pete and Pat."
"Fine," Trevor said and then frowned. "Why do you get to keep your name?"
"I'm not the one testifying," Pete said. "The official story is I'm taking an unpaid leave of absence. The lieutenant and your detectives are the only ones who know I'm with you. They're trying to minimize the number of people who know where you are or who you're with."
"They're not my detectives," Trevor growled. "Things were going just fine until they walked in."
"Except for always having to look over your shoulder, afraid someone's trying to kill you," Pete said mildly. "So, name?"
"Randy Lance?" Trevor suggested with a wicked curl of his lips. "Dick Long?"
"If you want to get sued by a porn star for trademark infringement, go right ahead." The minute the words escaped, Pete wanted them back. Now Trevor would be wondering how he knew two relatively obscure gay porn stars.
Pete frowned. Now that he thought about it, how did Trevor know these two relatively obscure gay porn stars?
"Fine," Trevor conceded, apparently oblivious to Pete's internal panic. "How's Joe sound? Non-porny enough for your conservative, financial-advising ass?"
"Perfect," Pete agreed with more enthusiasm than the name warranted. "How about a last name now? How'd you pick Courtland?"
"After bolting out of that last supposed 'safe' house, I hid in the back of a truck carrying a load of Courtland coffee." Trevor looked as if his mind was far away for a moment. Refocusing on Pete, he shrugged. "How about Richard Joseph Long--please call me Joey?"
Pete sighed. Obviously, Trevor was determined to be Dick Long. "Nice to meet you, Joey the graffiti artist. I'm your loving partner, ex-financial advisor Pete Giordano." He swung into a cracked and crumbling driveway and parked. "Welcome home."
Craning his neck to see the house in front of them, Trevor closed his eyes as if he were in pain. "You've got to be shitting me."
"W-what?" Clamping his lips together, Pete gave his head a short shake. What was up with the stuttering? He'd had a rough time with it when he was a kid, occasionally getting so bad he'd been completely stuck, frozen, unable to get a word out. It'd taken years and numerous fights before he'd lost the original nickname of "retard".
Since junior high, he'd been pretty much stutter-free, although it snuck out on rare occasions under stress. Three times in an hour, though--that was unacceptable. He glanced at Trevor's incredulous face as the other man examined the house. Pete knew why he couldn't talk right. The reason was sitting right next to him. He also knew he needed to get over this insane crush right away.
"This place is about to fall down, that's what," Trevor told him, opening his door and climbing out.
Pete turned the truck off and got out. "It's structurally sound," he corrected. He could hear the tightness in his own voice.
Trevor looked at him, disbelief covering his face. "Is this heap yours?"
Bending to pull two suitcases out of the back of the truck, Pete welcomed the chance to hide his expression. "Yeah. That's the other reason I need to keep my name. The real estate agent knows it already."
"Why the hell do you own a shithole in Honey-fucking-suckle?"
"It's not a shithole," Pete snapped before attempting to rein in his defensiveness. "We need to live somewhere. Might as well use this time to fix it up and then resell it when we leave."
Trevor started to laugh. His offense dropping away, Pete could only stare at the way laughter transformed Trevor's face, from sulky model to someone...irresistible.
"You're flipping the house," Trevor choked out, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes. "We're a gay couple from Cleveland and we're flipping a house."
Tearing his eyes away from the beautiful man in front of him, Pete hauled the suitcases up the front walk to the uneven front porch steps.
"If we're going to be this kind of clich�," Trevor said from behind him, "does this mean we have to get a Shih-Tzu?" He laughed even harder.
Pete ignored him, dropping the suitcases on the porch so he could dig the key from his pocket. One of the suitcases didn't stop at the porch but broke through and fell to the earth below, leaving a jagged hole in the wooden porch floor. After a second of startled silence, Trevor burst out laughing again.
With a sigh, Pete pulled the screen door open with a squeal of hinges. Yanking the key from his pocket, he inserted it into the lock. It was reluctant to turn, scraping against itself as it finally gave way. Pete turned back toward Trevor. "Watch your step," he cautioned, gesturing at the porch. "Think some of the wood's rotten." Pushing open the door, he stepped into his new house, letting the screen bang shut behind him.
"Thanks," Trevor yelled, breathless from laughter. "I'd kind of figured that out."
Pete ignored him yet again, looking around. It was a shithole. He knew that. Despite that, something about the place beckoned to him. He'd found it on a real estate internet site one night when he was longing for a place without shared walls. As the couple in the apartment next to his screamed insults at each other, Pete had stumbled onto a listing for this house.
He'd kept going back to it for weeks. It didn't make sense--it was too far for him to commute to work and it was, as Trevor had again informed him, a shithole--but he'd bookmarked the listing and looked at it again and again.
The house drew Pete. Even as he told himself it was a crazy idea, he'd been calling the real estate agent. He'd signed the papers to make the house his just a week before he was called into the lieutenant's office. Now, turning a circle inside his new home, Pete looked at the stairs stretching up in front of him. It didn't feel crazy. It felt right.
A crash made him whip around and lunge for the screen door. Trevor sprawled amongst broken boards on the ground where another section of porch floor had once been.
"You okay?" Pete asked him urgently, stepping carefully onto part of the remaining porch, testing his footing before allowing all his weight to rest on it.
Trevor got to his feet, brushing off dirt and bits of wood. "Yeah," he said, sounding a little sheepish. "Thought I'd get the suitcase that fell." He grabbed the bag by his feet and offered it up to Pete. "Here."
Although his heart was still racing, Pete had to grin. "Thanks." He accepted the suitcase and set it by the door where he knew the floor was sound. "Want a hand?"
"Sure." Trevor took his outstretched hand and stepped out of the hole onto the remaining porch floor. Pete grabbed Trevor's other arm to steady him as he found his balance.
"Good?" Pete asked. When Trevor nodded, Pete meant to step back--he really did. Instead, he froze when he realized how close they were standing. Trevor's arm flexed beneath Pete's grip.
Biting his bottom lip, Trevor tipped his head closer to Pete's. "Think we should let the neighbors know we're a couple?" he murmured.
"What?" Pete looked around. They were being watched. An elderly couple walked slowly on the sidewalk in front of Pete's house and a middle-aged man mowed the lawn across the street with his eyes fixed on Pete and Trevor. There was also a young woman pretending to trim her hedges next door, although her clippers just closed on air as she stared at the drama on the porch.
"Want to give them a show?" Trevor asked, leaning even closer.