By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: An alternate ending to Exposing Faith.
If a picture paints a thousand words,
Then why I can't paint you?
The words will never show
The you I've come to know.
Bosco drove slowly past where the truck was parked. Through the crowd he could see Fred and Leroy laughing.
Goosing the Mustang, Bosco flipped them the bird. “Yuck it up, assholes.” Like he wanted that stupid truck? Where the hell would you drive a truck like that in the city anyway?
“I can’t believe I fell for that crap.” He shook his head. “Shoulda just told Granny to call a cop – a working… on duty… not trying to win a truck – cop! That’s what I get for being a nice guy.”
His three days off were shot to hell, and he hadn’t gotten laid even once. Some vacation. Stopping at a red light, Bosco considered his options. A shower and some sleep and he could hit a club, maybe pick up someone hot. Bang her brains out making up for lost time.
At least he could still get laid. Bosco laughed. Fred was gonna be warming the couch for a long time. “’Get your ass down here’? Think you’d know better, Freddie.”
The light turned green, and Bosco started through the intersection. Halfway through, he flipped on his turn signal and turned. The car behind him honked at the sudden change in direction. “Yeah, yeah, bite me.”
He’d go tell Faith about Fred being in cahoots with dreadlocks boy – maybe get Fred a few more nights on the couch.
Bosco carried that happy thought as he drove to Faith’s. Whistling, he went inside and upstairs. Outside her door, he composed himself, setting his face into a sad, mopey expression. For a little added effect, he slumped his shoulders.
It took her a few moments to answer, and Bosco was beginning to think Faith really had gone to some art gallery thing when the door finally opened. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Faith frowned. “Aren’t you supposed to be winning a truck?”
“Yeah.” He said softly. Bosco let his shoulders slump a little more.
“What happened?” She carefully looked him over. Bosco’s head was down, and his shoulders were slumped. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I guess.” He shrugged.
“What happened – get in here.” She motioned for him to come inside.
Bosco dropped onto the couch, leaning his head back and closing his eyes. Faith shut the door and followed him. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Besides the agony of defeat? Fine.”
People were always collapsing at those stupid things. Faith leaned over and felt his forehead. “Did you faint or something? Did they give you any fluids?”
“I did not faint!” He batted her hand away. “I was robbed!”
“What?” Faith sat down on the couch, turning at an angle so she could see him better. “Someone robbed you? What – they came over the ropes and lifted your wallet?”
“No – “ Bosco gave her a dirty look before telling her about the faked purse snatching that had caused him to lose his truck.
By the time he got to the point where Leroy had thanked his grandmother for her part in the deception, Faith was laughing and holding her aching head.
“Oh my God, Bosco, that’s funny!”
“Yeah, Fred thought so too.” He pouted.
“Fred?” Faith wiped at her eyes. “Well, come on, Bos – it’s funny. Why shouldn’t he laugh?”
“Oh, I dunno… how about…” Bosco turned to glare at her. “Because he’s your husband? Supposed to be my friend?”
“I didn’t realize you and Fred were such big buddies.” The image of Bosco chasing down a purse snatcher only to have the guy laugh and throw the purse to him made her giggle again.
“We’re not – that’s not the point!”
“So what is the point?”
“Fred helped set me up!”
“He did not!” Faith protested. Fred wasn’t Bosco’s biggest fan, but he wouldn’t have done something like this to him.
“Oh, yeah?” Bosco sneered. “Then how come he was high fivin’ Huggy Bear, huh? How come they were pattin’ each other on the back, huh?”
“He was – he wouldn’t – “ She chewed on her lip. “Nah, he wouldn’t.”
“No?” Leaning closer, he waited until Faith was looking at him. “Do you think Whoopi came up with that on his own? Huh? Do ya? Do you think he knew anything about me? Did he know I’d try to chase the guy down? Now did he?”
“Did he know you’re a cop?” She asked. “’Cos if he did – then he’d know you’d chase the guy down.”
“No – he wouldn’t – “ Bosco waggled a finger in her face. “I was off duty, and I was being outta character – I was pretending to be a total jagoff.”
“That’s outta character?” Laughing, she grabbed his finger. “Get that outta my face before I break it off.”
“What I’m saying is that Leroy didn’t know me – at all.” Pulling his hand back, Bosco tapped his chest. “He don’t know me – but Fred does.”
“Trust me, Bos.” Faith leaned back and swung her legs up on the couch, resting her bare feet against Bosco’s leg. “Fred doesn’t know you either.”
“Sure he does. A little. He knows I’m serious about my job.”
“Sure, you’re serious.”
“I am!” He pinched her foot, making her jump. “Did I not give up a brand new truck to save Grandma’s food stamps?”
“Quit!” She kicked at his hand.
“Haven’t you told Fred I’m serious about the job? Huh?”
“Ever?” He held his fingers threateningly over her foot again.
“Well…” Jerking her foot back before he could pinch her again, Faith confessed. “Okay, maybe!”
“Maybe?” Bosco grabbed her foot.
“All right – all right – I’ve told him you’re a good cop.” She admitted. “But only so he won’t worry about me so much – he used to drive me crazy. He still drives me crazy.”
“So Fred knows I’d drop everything to go help some old lady who was getting mugged.” He slumped back against the cushions. “He trusts me with your life – but he screws me over to win a truck.”
“Like you wouldn’t have screwed him over if you’d had the chance?” She snorted.
“Of course I would’ve – but not until it was down to just me and him.”
Bosco was honest enough for Faith to believe that. He would’ve stuck by Fred until it was just the two of them – then turned on him. “I’m sorry.” She rubbed his leg with her foot for a moment.
“I should’ve – I could’ve taken advantage of the fact that you weren’t home – “ He patted her foot. “Made Fred worry about you.”
“Fred wasn’t worried?”
“Nope. Just pissed.” Catching her frown, Bosco grinned. “To be honest, I wasn’t worried either. I figured you weren’t answering the phone just to piss him off.”
“But Fred wasn’t worried?” So much for making her husband worry about what she might be standing around with her hands on.
“Guess not. He didn’t even say anything until after ten last night.” Bosco could truthfully say that he hadn’t been worried. Faith was a cop – and had a gun – and he really had figured she wasn’t answering the phone just to piss Fred off. “He’s a moron.”
“Yeah.” That made her Mrs. Moron.
“I can tell you one thing – if you were my wife and we’d planned three solid days of connubial bliss – “ Bosco tickled her ankle. “You’d have those waffle marks on your ass.”
“Really?” That was probably the sweetest thing Bosco had ever said. Which was pretty sad when she thought about it.
“Sure.” He leered at her. “Waffle marks – zigzags – diagonals – whatever you wanted, baby.”
“Shut up!” Swinging her feet down, Faith stood up.
“At the very least – I’d have said let’s both go down and try to win the truck. At least do it together.”
“Fred asked me to come down there.” She walked into the kitchen to fix a pot of coffee.
“Sure he did – to cheer him on.” Bosco turned and kicked his feet up on the couch. “Me – I’d have said, ‘Baby, let’s go down there – me and you – and show those losers how it’s done.’ That’s what I would’ve said.”
“And I might’ve done it – who knows?”
“Did he really tell you to get your ass down there?”
“Not me – the freaking answering machine!” She poured water into the coffee maker. “Hit the button and listen.”
Crawling up onto his knees, Bosco moved down to the end of the couch and hit the button on the answering machine. He listened to Fred’s little tirade, his eyebrows going up at the demand that Faith get her ass down there. Oh, no, you din’t! “What a moron!”
Faith walked back into the living room to see Bosco hanging over the end of the couch, grinning as he replayed the message a second time. “Can you believe that? Like I’m gonna jump and run right down there ‘cos he said so?”
“Well, you did.” He replayed the message again. It got better each time. “Only he didn’t get the meek and mild woman he wanted. Jeez, even I know better than to order you around like that.”
It was true, and it hurt. She handed him a cup of coffee and shoved him over so she could sit down.
“Not only that – “ Bosco leaned back and kicked his feet up on the coffee table. “You say jump, and I say how high – not that I’m gonna admit to it in front of anybody.”
“You don’t have to – you hauled your ass around that truck fast enough.” A smile curved her lips as she remembered Bosco scurrying to the other side of the truck.
“I’m not stupid enough to screw with you when you’re pissed off.” He valued his balls too much. “So, what did you do last night?”
“Nothin’?” She still had on those leather pants and the slightly trashy shirt. “That’s not a nothin’ outfit. That’s an ‘I need somebody to fuck my brains out’ outfit.”
“What are you, an expert?”
“As a matter of fact…” Bosco grinned. “Actually, that’s an ‘I’m pissed at my husband and need somebody to fuck my brains out to get even with him’ outfit.”
“Seen a few of those, have you?” Faith frowned down at her leather pants. Did they say all that? Did she want them to?
“And avoided them. Don’t need some guy coming after me with a gun.”
“No Complications Boscorelli, that’s you.”
“Exactly.” He took a drink of his coffee, looking her over again. Okay, so she’d really been out. What did she do? “Where were you last night?”
“You gonna tell Fred?”
“I went out and got drunk.” She took a sip of her coffee.
“And?” Any sentence that started out with that line had a novel behind it.
“And I met a guy – a photographer. And I went with him to look at some pictures.”
“Faith!” Bosco set his cup on the coffee table and turned to look at her. “You went with some strange guy to look at pictures? What kind of pictures?”
“Well, he told me he wanted to take me to meet some people – only it was an empty studio with pictures of people.”
“What the fuck were you thinking? He coulda been a rapist or somethin’!”
“I had my gun.” Faith gave him a dirty look. “Jeez, Bosco, I am a cop!”
“Still…” With how much booze in her?
“He wanted to take my picture.”
“I bet.” Snorting, Bosco picked up his cup again. “Minus clothes.”
“No, he’s not like that.” She wasn’t sure why she was defending Brett, except that Bosco was picking on him. “He takes pictures of people.”
“There’s a job. How’d I miss out on that one?” He moved his arm before she could smack him. “So did he take your picture?”
“No. I was drunk, and dizzy. He was gonna call me a cab – “ She shook her head. “Only I passed out first. Woke up this morning – “
“Did the son of a bitch take advantage of you?” Bosco sat up, spilling his coffee as he slammed the cup onto the coffee table. “Cos if he did – I’ll fucking kill him!”
“Bosco – calm down!” Grabbing his arm, she pulled him back as he started to get to his feet. “He didn’t do anything! I woke up on that damn bench this morning – alone and dressed. And hung over, so quit yelling.”
“He didn’t?” That was a relief – and kind of weird. “Is he gay?”
“I don’t think so.” Brett hadn’t made a pass at her, but he didn’t strike her as gay either.
“So is this the guy who’s got the art show thing?”
“Yeah. He asked me to come back this afternoon.”
“Nah.” It had been fun at the time, but today she was back to reality.
“Fred said you’d just go home and plant your ass on the couch.” Bosco looked sideways at her. “I said no she won’t either. Guess I don’t know you better after all.”
“He said – “ Bosco could be jerking her chain. Then again, maybe not. That sounded like something Fred would say. “I can’t – I told him I was an heiress.”
“What?” He laughed. “A what?”
“I was drunk – cut me a break, would ya?” She grinned. “I told him I hurt my hand falling off a polo pony.”
“You don’t play polo.”
“Didn’t say I played – just told him I fell off the pony.” Laughing, she remembered telling Brett that her father kept a stable of lawyers next to the ponies.
“So let’s go.” Bosco elbowed her. “I can be your bodyguard.”
“Yeah, heiresses need bodyguards.” He puffed out his chest. “I can be your bodyguard.”
“Bos, you’re too – “ She bit back the word ‘short’ when his eyebrows went up. “Young – too young to be a bodyguard.”
“Hey, if you can be an heiress – I can be a bodyguard.” Getting up from the couch, Bosco searched his pockets for his keys. “I’ll go home and shower and find some bodyguard type clothes. You get ready.”
“We’re not going.” Sober, she couldn’t face the guy and pretend she was anything other than what she was.
“Don’t you start with me.” Bosco ignored her and began making chicken noises. “Bosco – don’t you even start with me.”
“Chicken.” He jumped back as she got up off the couch.
Glaring at him, Faith walked past him toward the bedroom. “You be back here in an hour – or we’re not going.”
“Fine.” He grinned as he headed for the door. “And hey – shave your legs – you’re all scratchy.”
“You’re such a pain in the ass, Bosco!” She called after him as the door slammed. “Great. What the fuck do heiresses wear to art galleries?”
It seemed that heiresses bodyguards wore black. Faith gave Bosco another once over as he opened the door to the gallery. Black jeans, black shirt – where the hell did he get a velvet shirt – black leather jacket, black boots, and black Ray-Bans. He looked like he was on his way to a biker’s funeral.
Which was good, because she looked like a biker’s chick in what she was wearing. Faith glanced inside, comparing what she was wearing to what everyone else there was wearing. Her jeans and tie-dyed shirt were even more out of place than Bosco’s ensemble.
“If anybody asks, the limo is in the shop, so we’re slumming it in a classic Mustang.” He grinned at her and offered his arm. “If you’re ready to go hob nob with the hoy paloy, Miss Heiress?”
“I’m not sure we should go in.” Bosco made a clucking noise. “Don’t start with the chicken noises, Bos.”
Bosco took her hand and looped it over his arm. “You back out now, and Fred wins.”
“It’s a marriage, not a competition.” Even as she said it, Faith was letting him lead her inside. Screw Fred if he thought she was gonna go home and play Mrs. Brady.
“Just so long as it’s not a boxing match.” He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “Did you shave your legs, cos if this photographer guy is typical – he’s gonna want to see some skin.”
“Shut up.” She had, but she wasn't about to let him know it.
Bosco looked over the top of his sunglasses at the people inside the gallery. “Thought you said this was nothing fancy.”
“I was wrong – shoot me.” Shrugging, Faith looked through the crowd for Brett.
She spotted him just as some chick in a high priced outfit that would feed Faith’s family for a year told her that she’d sent some invitation. Before Faith could answer, Brett was there, waving the woman – Shannon – away. Smiling, he held out a glass of champagne to Faith.
“Thank you.” Faith took the glass and wondered exactly how rich people drank from these glasses. Slurping was not classy.
“Excuse me.” Bosco took the glass from her hand. He made a show of tasting the wine, rolling it around in his mouth and swallowing before handing the glass back. “It’s safe.”
Brett raised an eyebrow. Faith bit back a giggle. “This is Bosco – he’s my bodyguard.”
“Maurice Boscorelli.” Bosco looked the guy over. He didn’t look queer, but who knew? He’d only seen a few guys that looked like murderers, too.
“Mr. Boscorelli.” Brett nodded. “If you’re her bodyguard, where were you last night?”
“I was recovering from the fall off the polo pony. “ He said with a straight face.
Faith choked on her champagne.
“You play polo?” The photographer smiled.
“No.” Bosco shrugged. “But she got on the pony so I had to.”
“Then she snuck out.” Giving Faith a sideways look, Bosco leaned closer to Brett. “Damn heiresses do that all the time.”
“I’m sure it’s a tough job.” He looked Bosco over. Whatever Mr. Boscorelli’s real job was, he did look capable of taking care of himself – and Faith.
Shannon came over and offered Bosco a glass of champagne, ignoring Faith and Brett completely. “Are you enjoying the show?”
“Well, it’s improving since you came over.” He took the glass and raised it in salute before he took a sip. Personally, he thought champagne tasted like two day old Gatorade, but what the fuck – he wasn’t himself today anyway. He was Maurice, bodyguard to heiresses.
She laughed softly. “Would you like me to show you my favorite pieces?”
“Sure.” Bosco let his gaze slide down her body and back up. “And maybe I can show you some of mine.”
“I’d like that.” Licking her lips, she hooked her arm through Bosco’s and led him away.
“So… “ Bosco looked around at the pictures hanging on the wall. “You in any of these?”
“No.” She squeezed his bicep, liking the feel of taut muscle under the leather. “Brett says I’m much too fake to be real.”
“I dunno, you look pretty real to me.” He dipped his head down to look over the top of his sunglasses and into her cleavage. “I’d think pictures of you would be better than some of this cr – stuff.”
“We have some other works in the back.” A quick glance around the room showed Brett leading the blonde woman in the tacky clothes back toward his studio, and the guests were occupied with the photographs. Plenty of time. “If you’d like to see more?”
“I would love to see anything you want to show me.” Classy dames flirted the same way as the regular kind did, and they cut to the chase faster. Maybe he should’ve taken another crack at them after he’d dumped Nicole.
She led him past the clumps of people looking at the pictures and through a small doorway. He ditched his glass of champagne, handing it to some blue haired broad who looked like she needed another drink.
“We have other – “ The door closed behind them, and Shannon jumped. Turning, she found him leaning against the door, a smile on his face. It suddenly occurred to her that whoever this guy was, he was a lot more dangerous than the men who usually walked into the gallery.
Bosco locked the door and sized up the layout. There were boxes and crates stacked around the room, with drop cloths scattered everywhere. Right behind her was a perfectly empty spot of wall. Pulling off his sunglasses, he tucked them in his jacket pocket.
“Umm…” She stuttered, backing up as he pushed off the door and walked toward her. “Did you want to see... um… anything…”
“Whatever you’ll show me.” Taking her glass, he set it on a handy crate and stepped closer. She backed up another step, and he grinned.
“They’ll miss me in a minute or two.” Up close, she could tell that his eyes were a dark midnight blue. And hungry. Very hungry. She felt like the last spoonful of caviar.
“Oh, I think they’ll have to miss you longer than that.” Bosco unbuttoned the top buttons of her shirt, exposing the lacy black bra lifting up her perky little tits. He slid a finger down between them and pulled the material out, smiling at the pretty pink nipples. “I like to take my time when I’m looking at… pieces…”
Her heart was pounding, and there was a sharp ache between her legs. This was going to go way past the usual tease and grope session. “Are you an art critic, um …”
“Maurice.” Leaning closer, he slid a hand up her leg. “And I dunno much about art.”
His fingers were moving along the edges of her thigh high stockings, and she gulped as her last step back met the cold wall. Before she could protest, his lips were on hers, his tongue sliding into her mouth and stealing her breath.
Shannon gasped for air when he finally lifted his mouth from hers, and she clutched at his shoulders, realizing that he’d slid one hand inside her panties at some point, and his fingers were teasing her clit. His other hand was under the back of her skirt, cupping her ass and pulling her to him as he rubbed his hard on against her.
“Maur – “ Two hard fingers pushed inside her pussy. “ – ice!”
Bosco smiled as he nuzzled at her ear. He loved to catch them just as they said his name. Loved that little squeak they made, like they’d never been fingered before. “What color are your panties?”
“What?” It was hard to focus with his fingers curling up inside of her and stroking a sensitive spot she hadn't realized was there until now. “I – black – they’re black – “
“Black, I like black panties. Of course, I like pink and red and purple, too. And no panties – those may be my favorites.” Laughing, Bosco gave her another tongue twisting kiss as he eased her panties down. On the way back up, he lifted her thigh up around his hip and put his other hand back on her now wonderfully bare ass. “But you’re the artsy one here.”
Bosco spared a hand to reach into his jacket pocket and pull out a few condoms he always carried for just such occasions. “I’ve got blue, red, and – if you’re a naturalist – the see through ones.”
If she’d wanted to say no – which she didn’t – they were at least two exits past that road. His thighs had already shoved hers apart and he had lifted her up and had her pinned to the wall.
Taking one of the foil packages, Shannon tore it open carefully. “I’ve always liked skin tones.”
“A woman after my own heart – “ Bosco put the others back in his pocket and leaned back enough to tug his jeans open one handed so she could put the condom on his cock – expert rolling technique, he noticed. “Or something dearer than my heart.”
“Wait… “ She sucked in a breath as the head of his cock pushed into her and then stopped. “You don’t know my name.”
The midnight blue eyes stared into hers for a long moment. Then he shrugged. “Doesn’t matter.”
His lips found hers, and Bosco began to slowly, steadily pound himself into her.
Faith wiped at the tears on her cheeks as Brett went to pull the roll of film out of the camera. For some reason, the questions he’d asked, and the way he’d had the camera right in her face made her feel vulnerable in a way she had never felt before. She looked down at her clothes, half expecting to find herself naked.
The door opened and Bosco slid in, closing it behind him. He looked over at where Brett was working with the film. “Done?”
“Yeah.” She nodded. “You?”
“Yep. Thought I’d never find a john in this place. Guess these artsy folks don’t have to wash their hands.” He grinned and winked.
Faith got up as he walked toward her. Bosco had a look she’d seen many times over the years. Smug smile on his lips, the dark eyes soft and heavy lidded, and a strut to his step. Faith shook her head. Was there no woman out there who was immune to the Boscorelli charm?
She already knew the answer to that one. His fingers lifted her chin up and she didn’t pull away. Bosco would be uncharacteristically affectionate for a time, until the satisfaction from his latest fuck wore off. Why he didn’t stay and cuddle for awhile instead of running off was a question Faith couldn’t answer. Instead she'd let Bosco offer small touches and smiles – accepting them without comment until he'd retreated behind his wall again.
“What’s the matter.” Frowning, he looked her over. “You’re crying – what the fuck did this jagoff do?”
“Nothing. It’s silly – “ Faith pulled away.
"Did he try to get your clothes off?" His hands curled up into fists. "Did he?"
"Bos, no." The last thing she needed was for Bosco to kick into protective mode and punch Brett. "He was taking pictures – and – and I just started crying. I dunno why."
“It happens.” Brett handed Faith a tissue.
“Does it?” Faith wasn’t one of those weepy broads who cried over nothing. Bosco stepped between them. “What do you do to make it happen?”
“Nothing. I just ask simple questions.” He looked Bosco over. “And take pictures.”
Bosco didn’t like the way this guy was looking at him – it reminded him of the way people looked at the animals when he was at the zoo. That and the guy had had at least a couple of chances to get his hands on Faith and hadn’t touched her – what normal guy was going to pass that up?
“I’d like to take your picture, Mr. Boscorelli.”
“I bet you would.” Bosco snorted. “Faith, you ready to go?”
“Sure.” She stuffed the tissue into her pocket. “Anytime you are.”
“Seriously, I’d like to take your picture.” Brett stepped closer to Bosco, examining the structure of his face. “I think you’d make a good subject.”
Faith quickly stepped between them. Brett didn’t realize how dangerous it was to get in Bosco’s face. He’d probably never met anyone like Bosco. In his world – people like Bosco didn’t exist. “I’d don’t think that’d be a good idea. He… ah… it just wouldn’t be a good idea.”
She backed up, knowing Bosco would back up as well. Turning, she laid a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s go, Bos.”
He nodded, giving Brett one last glare.
Brett waited until Bosco had his hand on the door. “You’re probably right Faith, if he cries, it – “
“Hey! I wouldn’t cry!” Bosco whirled around. “I’m not a woman – I don’t cry.”
It was obvious that Brett was manipulating Bosco, and Faith didn’t like it. “Just let me know when to meet you to get the pictures. Let’s go, Bos.”
“No.” He stomped over to the stool she’d been sitting on and plopped down. “This jagoff wants to take my picture – fine.”
“Bosco – “
“You had your turn.” Bosco told her. “Let’s see what Mr. Photographer Guy can do now.”
Brett got the light meter and quickly snapped a few test shots.
Bosco jumped as the camera came close to his face. “Hey – back off!”
“Relax, Bos.” Faith leaned on the door. She’d tried. If Brett ended up with a broken nose – it’d be his own fault. “He takes close ups.”
“Yeah? Well – “ Bosco flinched as the camera went off again. “They make lenses for that, you know.”
“The lenses lose the definition.” Brett told him. “You and Faith – you’re her bodyguard?”
“Yeah.” Grinning at Faith, he barely blinked at the camera going off once more.
“And you take good care of her?”
“I think so.” Bosco thought about it for a moment, then nodded “Yeah, I do.”
“And does she take care of you?” Brett moved in a little closer.
Faith smiled as Bosco turned back to her and gave her the soft smile she saw only rarely. “I try. He’s a handful.”
Laughing, Bosco turned his attention back to the photographer. “Heiresses and bodyguards have to take care of each other. We’re partners.”
“Did you fuck Shannon?”
“I – “ Shocked for a moment, Bosco gaped at the man. “What is she to you?”
“Nothing.” Brett shrugged. “Did you?”
“Yeah.” He ducked his head and turned away so Faith couldn’t see. “So?”
“And she liked it?”
“You know, this isn’t really something to discuss in front of Faith.” Bosco felt his face go red as Faith snickered. “And yes – she liked it – I don’t leave them wanting – you know?”
Brett moved the questions to safer topics as he took the rest of the roll. There were frequent glances between Mr. Boscorelli and Faith – glances he wasn’t sure how to interpret. Faith was wearing a wedding ring – but he knew without asking that she wasn’t married to Mr. Boscorelli. And yet they were closer than many married couples he knew. What was it they really did?
“Are you good at protecting Faith?” Brett asked again.
“Yes.” A smile curved Bosco's lips, and his chin jutted up a notch.
“You’re proud of that?”
“Of course. What are you – defective?”
“So she’s never been hurt?” Brett hurried to snap a shot as Bosco’s head snapped up. Ruthlessly, he pressed in closer. “She’s been hurt – was it your fault?”
“It wasn’t – “ Bosco swallowed hard and leaned back from the camera intruding into his space. “It wasn’t – sometimes things happen.”
“So she has been hurt? And you couldn’t prevent it?”
“I – “ He looked at Faith – looked away again.
“And you couldn’t prevent it?” Brett asked again.
Bosco looked down at his hands, twisting his fingers together in his lap. “No.”
Here was the real Mr. Boscorelli. Brett pressed the questions about protecting Faith and not protecting Faith – until there was a sheen of tears in the man’s eyes, and his voice was rough and broken.
Faith pushed away from the door. Brett had managed to strip Bosco bare just as he had her. “That’s enough.”
“Have you ever let him be hurt, Faith?” Brett ignored her and caught another frame. “Has it been you who failed to protect him?”
The sudden, fierce anger in the midnight blue eyes made Brett back up a step. Clearly this wasn’t an area where Mr. Boscorelli would allow questions. “You’re very protective of her, aren’t you, Mr. Boscorelli?”
“Damn straight.” Bosco ground out past clenched teeth.
“Would you give your life for hers?”
“In a second.” Bosco looked up past him to catch Faith’s eyes, blinking as the camera snapped repeatedly. “I’m nothing – she’s – “
“I said that’s enough!” Faith jerked the camera out of Brett’s hands. “Bosco, get up!”
Bosco bolted up off the stool, wiping at his eyes furiously. He couldn’t believe he’d let this jagoff get to him. “Let’s go.”
“I want his pictures, too.” She laid a hand on Bosco’s shoulder. “Just like mine.”
“I’ll bring them.” Brett agreed. “And Mr. Boscorelli – “
“What?” Bosco slid on the Ray-Bans to hide his eyes.
“I believe that you do a very good job of protecting Faith.”
Ignoring him, Bosco jerked the door open. “Come on, Faith.”
Faith followed him out.
“You okay?” She asked as she slid into the passenger seat of the Mustang.
“I’m fine.” Shoving the key in the ignition, Bosco started the car.
“I tried to tell you.”
“And I didn’t listen.” The tires squealed as he pulled out into traffic. “Nothing unusual there.”
“Hey, at least you got laid.” Faith grinned as he shot her a look. “That’s more than I got this weekend.”
“True.” Bosco grinned back.
“Bet she’s telling everybody she did some heiress’s bodyguard.”
“Nah, we didn’t get that far in the conversation.” He stopped at a red light and looked in the rearview mirror, grinning at his reflection. “I’ll just be the mysterious Maurice – the gorgeous, mysterious Maurice who rocked her world.”
It hadn’t taken Bosco’s ego long to recover. Remind him that he’s a sex god, and he’s happy. Faith smiled.
“So, you wanna go home? Or do you wanna make Fred wonder some more?”
“Let’s make him wonder.” She leaned back in the seat. “I want some pancakes.”
“Not waffles?” Laughing at the glare she threw at him, Bosco hit the gas as the light turned green.
“You go in, I’m gonna have to park down the block.”
“Now who’s chicken?” Faith got out of the car and shut the door.
“I’m not chicken!” Bosco insisted.
She leaned in through the open window. “Then why aren’t you coming in?”
“I am coming in! Do you see a parking place?” He waved a hand at the parked cars in front of the diner.
She had to give him that much. The closest place to park was at least a half a block away. “All right, I’m going in – but your ass better be in there in five minutes – don’t make me come after you.”
“Like you need me to look at some crappy pictures?” Bosco muttered.
A car stopped in the street behind the double parked Mustang and honked.
“I’m warning you, Bosco – “ The car behind them honked again, and the driver leaned out his window to yell at them. Faith straightened up and yelled back. “Shut up! You don’t like me parkin’ in the street? Go around!”
Without her uniform, Faith’s snarl didn’t carry as much weight, and the other car eased up until it was almost touching the Mustang’s bumper while the driver laid on the horn like he was a tug boat.
“Just go inside!” Bosco yelled over the noise. “Before this moron makes me get out and punch him!”
He took off without giving her a chance to answer, and Faith settled for glaring at the driver of the other car before she turned and went inside the diner.
Bosco wasn’t happy with the parking places at the end of the block, so he decided to circle around and see if anything closer opened up.
If he was honest with himself – and he tried to avoid that whenever possible – he didn’t want to see the pictures. The guy had really gotten to him, and he just wanted to toss the pictures in the nearest trash can and forget it all.
A car pulled out from in front of the diner as Bosco came around the corner. “Ah, crap! No – don’t you want some pie or something? Go back in!”
The car drove off, leaving him with no choice but to pull into the vacated parking place. Well, he’d had a choice, but he was pretty sure Faith had spotted him through the window already.
Bosco parked carefully – taking his time and parallel parking, even though he could have just pulled right in. No sense in not doing the job right. The windows had to be rolled up and the doors locked. Lights off. Emergency brake on.
The meter still had time on it, and he wasn’t about to feed it extra money just to kill time. Sighing, Bosco started inside the diner.
Just as he reached for the door, it flew open and a man ran out. Bosco stumbled back as the man clipped his shoulder and spun him around.
“Son of a – watch where you’re going!” Bosco rubbed his shoulder and yelled after the running man. “Stupid jagoff!”
Pulling the door open, he stepped inside – and froze. The customers looked frightened. Most were cowering down in their seats, and a few were on the floor. There was muffled crying coming from off to his right.
Bosco leaned down and pulled his off duty gun from its holster. “Faith?” He said softly.
He spotted her in the corner beside the hallway that led back to the john. Her gun was out, and she jerked her head toward the hallway.
Nodding, Bosco eased the door closed behind him and moved slowly toward her.
“Mr. Boscorelli – “
A hand closed on his arm and Bosco swung around, startled by the loud voice and the unexpected touch. The gun was pointing between Brett’s eyes even as Bosco reregistered who he was. Instantly the gun dropped back to his side.
“Get down!” Bosco hissed as he shoved the photographer down in the booth. “Stay down!”
Turning, he looked at Faith again. The diner guys?
She nodded and tilted her head toward the back again. In there.
Got it. Bosco moved into a position that allowed him to cover the hallway without putting Faith into his line of fire. The guy would probably come out and turn toward the cash register, allowing Faith to get the drop on him from behind.
Bosco shifted until he was out of what would be the firing arc of the first shotgun blast. He nodded to Faith. Set.
Faith nodded back. Ready.
Grinning, he took in the firm set of her mouth, the way her eyes were narrowed and glittering, and the pistol cocked and ready to drop. If there was a first shotgun blast. Get him!
The perp stepped out of the hallway, his shotgun at waist level.
Faith dropped her gun, resting the barrel on the back of his fat neck.
Bosco shivered as she barked out an order to drop the gun. And they wondered why he liked working with a woman? God, I love you!
He kept his gun carefully trained on the fat bastard as the shotgun was laid – oh so carefully – on the counter. Faith smiled at him over the guy’s head, and he smiled back. Good job, partner!
“That was fun.”
“You get a hard on?”
“Don’t I always?”
“Let’s take a look.”
“Can’t you just take my word for it?”
“I meant the pictures, Bosco!” Faith held up the packages Brett had given them.
“Oh.” Bosco ducked his head and looked out the window. “Me too! Get your mind out of the gutter!”
“I would if you didn’t drag me back in there.” She studied the packages. One had Faith written on it, and the other Mr. Boscorelli. “So, do you wanna look?”
“Why? They’re probably crappy.” He didn’t want to see them. His anyway. “Yours are probably okay.”
“I doubt it.” Brett had wiped off all her makeup, and then she’d started crying. “I bet yours are good, though.”
“I’ll look at yours if you wanna look at mine.” That sounded reasonable enough. And she’d probably say no anyway.
Bosco sighed as she handed him the package with her name on it. Someday he had to stop thinking. Carefully, he tore the envelope open and slid the pictures out. From the corner of his eye, he saw her doing the same thing with the other package.
The pictures were good. As much as he hated to admit it, the guy had gotten some good shots. The pictures captured a Faith he saw every day, and a Faith he’d never seen before. “These are… they’re okay.”
“Yeah.” Faith held up a picture of Bosco laughing. “Your mother would like this one.”
“Probably. This one of you is good.” He held up one of her with a smile curving her lips.
They leafed through the pictures, showing them to each other when they found one they liked. Tucking away the ones that were disturbing.
Bosco didn’t like the sad ones. There were several where Faith had a faraway, lonely look he’d seen from time to time. One shot of her staring straight into the camera with tears running down her cheeks made his chest hurt. “I don’t like some of these.”
“Me either.” Faith had made two piles. One of good Bosco pictures where he was grinning or smiling, and one of a thoughtful look that she saw only when he thought nobody was looking. The other pile held the sad and lonely looks. It was by far the larger pile.
“He said I seemed real confident.” She told him.
“What did he say about me?” Not that it mattered what some wussy photographer thought, but he was curious.
“That you were confident.” Faith hesitated. “And lonely.”
“What the fuck does he know?” Lonely? He’d bagged and tagged the art chick in a heartbeat. Did lonely guys do that?
“Probably nothing.” Lonely was what she saw in most of Bosco’s pictures, but she kept that to herself.
“The guy is okay I guess, but I don’t think I ever wanna do that again. I mean – “ Bosco paused as he heard Faith say his name softly. “What?”
“Nothing.” She tucked the picture into the envelope. “Let’s just toss these.”
“Let me see.”
“No.” He tried to take the envelope. Faith held it out of reach, but the space in the Mustang was limited, and he grabbed it out of her hand. “Bosco – it’s nothing.”
“Then I can look.” Sticking his tongue out at her, Bosco pulled the picture out of the envelope. The picture made him wish he’d listened for once in his life. Everything he tried to hide was there in black and white.
Faith took the picture from him and put it back in the envelope along with the others she’d rejected. Brett had managed to break down Bosco’s defenses long enough to capture the anguish, guilt, loneliness, and fear that he kept hidden.
“I want to save a couple of these for your mother, okay?” She opened the car door. “Let me have those.”
“Um…” Bosco swallowed hard, choking down his emotions as he always did. “There’s a couple of you that Fred might like.”
“And how would I explain them?” Just a souvenir of my weekend with a photographer? That’d go over real well.
“Can I keep one?” He asked softly.
Bosco being shy? And asking instead of demanding? Faith smiled. Hell must’ve frozen over. “If you want. Just so long as you’re not making a dartboard or nothin'.”
“Nah.” He picked out the one where she was smiling and another where she had the same determined look on her face she’d had when she was waiting for the perp to come out of the john in the diner. “I’ve got one of Christopher for that.”
Taking the rest of the pictures, Faith got out of the car and dropped them all into a nearby trash can.
When she got back in, she leaned back in the seat and sighed. “Ready to get back to real life?”
“Tired of being an heiress?”
Faith tried unsuccessfully to keep a straight face. “Tired of falling off the damn ponies.”
Bosco’s laughter joined hers as he started the car.