Join Prism Book Alliance® as Hank Edwards goes Outside the Margins today.
Whew, it’s a hot one out there. Seems like Summer has finally arrived here in Michigan. To celebrate, I’m going to share the first chapter of a story of mine that’s been around for a while. Some of you may have read it already, and some of you might not know about it. Either way, read on and meet Barry the waiter and Vinnie, hired muscle for the mob, in my novella “Hired Muscle.”
Hired Muscle By Hank Edwards
The night I met Vinnie, clouds hung low over the city, dumping rain in torrents as if to wash the citizens clean. So many of the elected officials were dirty, however, it would take a hell of a lot more than a single thunderstorm to sluice the stench of corruption from the city’s streets.
It was October 1941, and everyone could feel some kind of change in the air. There were reports of a war in Europe, but that seemed so far away. We had a mob war going on right outside our door. We couldn’t worry about Europe’s battles.
I waited tables at the last chic restaurant in a decaying section of Baltimore. Competing mob bosses had forced a large manufacturer with warehouses and an assembly plant nearby to shut down, and most of the surrounding businesses had fled to different parts of the city.
DuMochelle’s, the restaurant where I worked, still did steady business, but the diners were more cautious. The conversation was subdued and the laughter less boisterous. Once they had finished with dessert and coffee, most people scurried to other, safer sections of the city or back to their new suburban homes.
I had just turned away from delivering the check to a nervous table of four when the front door opened. The rain outside sounded like the fountain in the city center. The diners at the table nearest the door shivered and leaned away from the damp chill.
Then a tall, wide-shouldered shape filled the doorway. The maître d’ and owner, Enrique DuMochelle himself, stepped back from his podium, eyes wide as the new arrival swept his gaze around the room. I felt a tingle of connection as his gaze met mine, lingered for a breath of a moment, and then moved on.
He had to duck to get through the door, and his wide face, marred by a scar across his left cheek, was just shy of handsome. A fedora partially hid thick, dark hair, and his suit coat stretched tight over a muscular chest and shoulders.
After apparently deciding the room held no threat, the guard stepped aside to reveal a smaller, much better dressed man. I felt the collective intake of breath in the restaurant as Giovanni Lombardi, notorious south side mob boss, walked through the door. Don Lombardi nodded to Enrique who fumbled a handful of menus from beneath his podium and led him to the best table in the place, a large half circle red leather booth. The rest of the diners tried not to stare as Don Lombardi ambled past, his wife, gorgeous in midnight blue, right behind him, and his two children after her.
Two more bodyguards filed in, neither as big as the first one. All three seated themselves at separate, empty tables at various spots throughout the place, and my stomach fluttered as the leading hulk of muscle picked a table in my section.
We waiters scurried into action as a single, cohesive unit. As the bus boys delivered water and place settings, we stepped up and rattled off the evening’s specials. When I walked up to the big goon’s table, he raised his dark brown eyes to my face and gave me a quick nod.
“Would you like to hear tonight’s specials?” I asked, working to keep my voice steady.
“Nah. Just bring me a steak, medium, with lotsa mashed potatoes and creamed corn.” The seismic wave of his voice shot right to my crotch and got me hard in a moment. I was never more thankful for the concealment of my black waiter’s apron than I was at that moment.
“Of course,” I replied, “anything to drink?”
“Water, in a bigger glass than this.” He waved a meaty hand at the small water glass, then he looked up at me, his gaze seizing mine so I couldn’t look away. “What’s your name?”
“Barry,” I squeaked.
“Vinnie,” he rumbled. “If the boss likes the food we’ll be coming here a lot, so it’s good to know the staff.”
“Nice to meet you, Vinnie,” I said. “I’ll put in your order.”
Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Cocktail” crooned from the radio when I stepped into the kitchen and paused to catch my breath. The direct eye contact with Vinnie had left me a little shaky. I felt drawn to his large body and dangerous good looks like pins to a magnet. He hadn’t seemed to notice my physical reaction to him, but I knew my interest would be visible in my eyes. I always gave away too much of myself through my eyes.
The other waiters chattered, explaining the excitement out in the dining room to the kitchen staff. Enrique, the owner and maître d’, was gay himself, and had hired a number of men he had met in dimly lit bars or back rooms as his wait staff, myself included. He had never made an overture toward any of us as some other business owners might have done. Enrique was a kind-hearted professional who looked out for his staff. He called us his girls when no customers could hear him, and listened to many broken-hearted sob stories before and after our shifts.
Sam, the headwaiter, breezed into the kitchen, sized up the situation in a glance, and clapped his hands. Everyone jumped back to work, and Sam shot me a look and rolled his eyes. As the two oldest members of the staff, we often shared looks of frustration or disbelief over the activities and distractions of the younger waiters.
I stuck my order on the wheel and filled a tall glass with water. On my way out the door, I slipped a sprig of mint in with the ice cubes and moved through the tables to place the glass before Vinnie where he sat, huge and watchful, all alone.
“Thanks,” he muttered without looking up and I moved on to tend to my other tables.
The mafia entourage dined quietly. Don Lombardi and his wife talked and laughed with their children. No violent outbursts or death threats interrupted the calm scene. After the checks had been paid, the bodyguards stood in unison and turned to the front door. Vinnie lingered at his table and I eased up to remove the bill folder, now thick with cash.
“Thanks, Barry.” Vinnie nodded at me. “I liked the mint in the water glass. Nice touch.”
I shrugged and then drew in a sharp breath as his big, rough hand grabbed mine. His palm swallowed up my hand and the damp heat of his touch shot right to my cock. I felt something pressed into my palm and then the searing heat of his touch vanished. He leaned down and said quietly, “The boss liked this place, so I’ll see you soon.”
After the group had departed, I opened my fist to find a ten-dollar bill crumpled in the center of my palm. The big man tipped big, too.
I hope you enjoyed Barry and Vinnie’s meeting. Keep cool this summer and I will see you again in August.
Title: Hired Muscle
Author: Hank Edwards
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 07/09/2014
Cover Artist: Startled Monkeys Media
Genre: Erotica, Gay, Historical, M/M Romance, Thriller
In October 1941, the violence of Baltimore’s warring mob families is escalating. The danger has decimated many of the businesses around DuMochelle’s restaurant where Barry waits tables. When a mob boss and his family begin to frequent the restaurant, a romantic relationship develops between Barry and Vinnie, a bodyguard. Vinnie resists, fearing for Barry’s safety and concerned that Barry will want nothing to do with him if he discovers his role in the family. But their passion cannot be denied, and Vinnie is trapped between the love he wants and the only life he’s known. As the rival mob family moves in for the kill, Vinnie and Barry find themselves caught in the crossfire.
About Hank Edwards
Hank Edwards is a curious mix of practical realist and feral dreamer, with over a dozen books published. His body of work covers a host of genres from gay romance to humor, paranormal to suspense, and mystery to time travel romance.
He is also a member of the Story Orgy group (www.facebook.com/SOGroup), a clan of writers who post free gay romance reads to their blogs every Monday morning and self-publish steamy stories based on writing prompts. Find his posts atwww.hankedwardsbooks.com/hankerings.
Like his Facebook pages (www.facebook.com/hankedwardsbooks or www.facebook.com/venomvalleyseries), favorite his Amazon page (www.amazon.com/author/hankedwards), and follow him on Twitter (@hanksbooks) to become a true “Hankie.” You may also visit his website at www.hankedwardsbooks.com or send along an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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