Authors: Mia Watts
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.
“Don’t forget to tuck ’em, sweetheart.” Agent Jennings slapped Chris Tarpington’s shoulder. “God, I love fresh rookie meat.”
Chris tried to smile good-naturedly, but really, he wanted to storm out of the sector office and slam things.
“What are you complaining about? Your first op and you get to go undercover with the local police
,” Mathis shouted after Chris, not even trying to cover his booming laughter.
“Swing your hips, Tarp. Hold your chest out,” Jennings coached.
I’m going to fucking annihilate this case
, Chris thought. No fucking way would he be humiliated on his first big assignment by dressing in drag. The detective assigned with him would have to take that honor. He smiled in grim determination.
Clutching the case file in a white knuckled grip, he stalked through the office to the public area and the conference room where his new partner waited. Some of the desk jockeys snortled as he walked by. He shot them each personally designed death glares.
“You’re the big guy now, aren’t you, Tarp?” one of them mocked as he passed. “Or is that big
“Don’t get your panties in a bunch,” another of Chris’ old co-workers quipped. “Those big girl panties can
By the time he got the conference room, his shoulders felt tight.
God, what a nightmare
. Chris steeled himself with a deep breath and brushed the blond strands obscuring one eye off his forehead.
He almost snorted. Detective Vincent Pilk didn’t know it yet, but the tables were gonna turn. Detective Pilk would be wearing the dress through this op, and Chris would let him think it was an honor to do it. With a new plan firmly lined up, he swept into the conference room to tell Pilk how things were going to be.
!” Plans crashed into a heap and spontaneously burst into flame. This? This was Detective Vincent Pilk? A man whose name inspired visions of protruding Adam’s apple, knobby knees and sailor suits? “Damn it! You’re a fucking
Broad shoulders, dark curling hair and a tight ass turned slowly with a demeanor of being inconvenienced. Pale blue eyes zeroed in on Chris with laser intensity as mocking dark brows rose in arrogance. Full, chiseled lips quirked upward higher on one side than the other. All together, he looked to be patiently waiting out Chris’ perusal, taking his initial assessment in stride.
There was no way on God’s green Earth a man with the shoulder span and arm circumference of Vincent Pilk could put on a dress. A wide chest narrowed to lean hips and runner’s legs. And two hundred twenty or forty pounds of red-blooded American linebacker physique swallowed Chris’ five foot, eleven height, and slammed it down with another six inches, easy.
“How the hell do you detect anything without being spotted?” Chris wondered aloud. He circled the Detective, shaking his head. “You’d make one
Pilk folded his arms across his chest, looking more immovable by the second as his smile disappeared. Amusement still twinkled in the blue eyes set in the olive complexion of pure Italian heritage, complete with high cheekbones, square jaw and what looked like a permanent five o’clock shadow. A pale scar curled from the side of his bottom lip toward the point of his chin and stopped just shy of a barely noticeable cleft. Chris would have to be an idiot to force the dress issue.
“Is this a set-up?” Chris laughed suddenly, realizing the sector guys had pulled a good one on him. “It’s a fucking set-up. Shit, for a minute there, I thought you were my ops partner. I mean, shit, what were they thinking, right? I could just see you tottering around in red heels and talking about your latest casserole recipes.”
Tears streamed from the corner of Chris’ eyes. He slapped his hip and peeled in another round of laugher.
“Oh, God, this is amazing!” Chris wiped his eyes and shook his head to show he was duly impressed. “
amazing. I mean, God,
at you. A gigantic bodyguard with attitude is just what I need in a fucking wife. Damn, I sure as hell wouldn’t fuck you in a dress,
The breath slammed out of his body. Chris’ feet dangled off the floor and two meaty fists wadded his shirt as the wall pressed unforgivingly against his shoulders and head. “What the fuck?” he gasped.
Pilk’s stony face, and inch from Chris’ nose, snarled. “You’re a foulmouthed asshole who talks too much. You’re careless and stupid and you will never, ever, ever call me Vincent again.”
Chris’ eyes widened. “Sure, okay,” he gasped.
“My name is Vin, are we clear, rookie?”
“Clear.” Chris’ voice came out strained and wispy. “Can I come down now?”
“You boys done yet?” The gruff voice of Chris’ sector head barked somewhere beyond them.
“Yep. Done,” Chris agreed.
Vin smirked, dropped Chris to his feet, and tousled his hair. Chris wheezed, trying to catch his breath. Both men turned toward the room at large where the sector head stood shoulder to shoulder with the police chief. Neither looked pleased, although Chris suspected it was a glint of barely concealed amusement that glittered in the chief’s eyes.
“This is serious business and we don’t have time to whip out a tape measure for your dicks.” The police chief tossed a manila file on the table and it slid several inches toward them.
Chris reached out and snatched it up first. The room felt like every bad covert ops movie ever created with stern faced department heads as a united front on one side of the table and the mismatched duo of investigators on the other.
“Why Feds?” Vin asked his chief.
Flipping through the file, Chris pretended that the answer didn’t matter. Didn’t want to acknowledge it was a good question. Especially given the case parameters of going undercover as a married couple. Another excellent question “the meat” could have asked—why not a woman Fed?
“Interdepartmental relations. The DEA is involved too, just not in the op. We’ve been asked to facilitate a new way of approaching crime involving multiple departments in a manner more amicable than historical cases,” the sector head explained. “No more jurisdiction arguments, only shared resources and shared discovery.”
Chris snorted. “Yeah, that’ll work.” He felt the regard of the others on him, but continued flipping through the file until his eyes caught on the surveillance photos of soccer moms and women juggling kids or weeding in their gardens. How the hell did they expect him to fit into the community in
“You see, genius,” Chris said, addressing Vin. “My question would have been, why the fuck are you having two men go in undercover as a married duo? There are women better suited to this work.”
“Are you declining your first mission?” his sector head asked.
“No sir. I’m declining the robust masonry of my so-called partner. Give me a
and I’ll have this case cracked in no time. Vin here will just fuck up my stats. This is a fluff case.”
“It’s a test op to see how we work together,” the sector head corrected.
Vin wrapped a beefy arm around Chris’ shoulders. “Aw look. Our first family spat.”
“Fuck off, meat locker.”
Vin dropped his arm after giving him a warning squeeze.
“Because,” the chief said, raising his voice to be heard, “Tarpington is going in as a wife who used steroids in her teens to get ahead of the athletic competition. It gives you two a viable start and explanation into why he’ll be involved in drugs now. Vin is leading this shindig, doing the background work. But the whole operation hinges on Tarpington’s infiltration. He’s the front guy. Girl.”
“The details are in the file. Read them carefully. Memorize the cover story we’ve set up for you and the main players. Chances are they will test you. There’s no room for error,” the sector head warned.
“A housewife drug ring?” Chris considered tossing the file back across the table, but pissing off his boss didn’t sound like a genius plan for instant success.
“Yes. Sixty percent of all drug transactions and users are in dense city populations,” the chief said.
“So why not go there?” Chris asked.
Vin’s lips curled into a sneer. “Where did you think the other forty percent came from? Dairy farms?”
“The suburbs,” the chief answered for Chris, though he didn’t have to.
“This case deals with importing drugs of several varieties and their distribution. That’s why we think a steroid user will work for this cover. The visual proof will go a long way toward your credibility.” The sector head gave him a once over. “And you won’t be too ugly dressed in drag—passably masculine.”
Chris felt his lips twist unhappily. “And the beefcake? Why him?”
“He has a body builder’s strength with an immaculate case record. Not only is he great at his job, but pairing you with a leaner build would seem contrived. Vin is big enough not to find a masculine woman threatening,” the chief said.
“Glad to see the boys in blue haven’t given up stereotyping,” Chris muttered.
“Does the little guy ever shut up?” Vin asked his chief.
“I’m not fucking little, Gigantor. You’re just fucking super-sized.”
“Are you ready for me?” a chipper female called from the doorway.
Chris looked at the duffle-toting redhead. “And who the fuck are you, my daughter?”
“She’s your depilatory and image specialist.” The sector head’s chuckling amusement had Chris squinting at the girl.
“My what?” Chris asked.
“She’s your wax and buffer, moron.” Vin gave the girl a broad wink. “Give him a Brazilian. It’s critical to the case.”
“A what?” Chris repeated lamely.
“Yes, sir,” she said, smiling through an impressive blush.
“We should leave, Vin. Tarpington has some work to finish before you move in tomorrow.” The Chief circled the table and herded Vin out.
“You should wear pink. It’ll look great with your coloring,” Vin threw over his shoulder as he strode from the room.
Chris watched, transfixed at the swaggering, shoulder swinging harmony of Vin’s powerful body in motion. Agents and office staff cleared the way for him, unconsciously giving him a respectful berth.
“Yep,” the sector head said, coming up beside Chris. “Classy, Tarp. Less than ten minutes with your new partner and you let him take you up against a wall. Now you’re exchanging grooming advice. I’d say you lost that battle.”
“Fuck off,” Chris snarled.
The standard friendly razzing scraped a little too close to the truth. He’d never disclosed his sexual orientation—not the agency’s business—but being up against a wall with Vin didn’t sound like such a bad idea. His adrenaline was still pumping after their zinging exchange.
He laughed, clapping Chris on the back like they mutually shared the joke. “Make sure she gives you mace. Three weeks without rowdy sex and a guy like that might come looking for it under
Chris shot him a baleful look. “Three weeks without sex and I’ll be hitting up one of the druggy housewives for sex. Vin can fend for himself,” he said with a smirk, playing into the expected locker-room talk.
“Just remember that one’s a detective. If you put up a fight, he might use his cuffs on you.”
“Damn, boss, it’s an op, not prison. The wife isn’t putting out anymore?”
Jennings’ smile faltered. “Yaste tell you that? Shit. Get the fuck outta my sight and do whatever she tells you,” he said, cocking his head toward the woman who had begun setting up tubes and lotions on the conference room table.
“Yeah, yeah,” Chris muttered.
The woman stepped around Chris and shut the door. She handed him a thin cotton dressing gown. “Here ya go,” she said, trying not to crack a smile. “They told me to tell you that the rest of your wardrobe will be on site when you arrive. But before you get there, we have some work to do on you.”
He stared at the gold and green, sixties inspired cloth with huge daisy print. He flicked a gaze to the woman who no longer tried to suppress her amusement. “You telling me you’d wear this thing?” he asked.
“Not even if it meant a week long paid cruise,” she said sweetly. She moved back around to her potions and assorted tubes, pulled out a bag and unrolled it. Clear plastic pouches with assorted paintbrushes, small and large powder containers, tubes of bright color, pencils, and beige creams stretched out before him.
Chris thought again about Vin, this time carrying a lady’s makeup case and sporting a pair of commando boots under a long flowing dress. The image didn’t compute and only made the reality that Chris was stuck with the role ever more apparent. “Fuck.”
“You don’t know how to put on makeup, do you?” Pity softened her voice. “First disguise?”
“Haven’t a clue,” Chris said. Sick coldness hit the pit of his stomach. The base of his skull throbbed at the four-foot display. God, he so didn’t want to do this.
“C’mon, I’ll show you. But first you have to strip and put that on, and then we gotta do something about those eyebrows.” She turned her back in a show of privacy and God help him, Chris stepped toward the dungeon of scented, color-coordinated hell.