Seventeen minutes later, I returned to my own place a changed man. A deaf man.
I rubbed my ear and tossed my keys on the hallway table.
Shan was sitting on the couch, sipping a drink. Vodka, judging by the bottle on the coffee table.
“What’s the occasion?” I asked.
He glanced over at me, and the languidness of his movements told me everything I needed to know. He’d been at it for a while.
I removed the bottle and returned it to the cabinet.
“I need a favor,” he muttered. “I…I can’t ask sober.”
I frowned and sat down next to him. How bad could it be? Our guys in the syndicate turned to me for favors all the time. With my position, I was more connected than the boss himself, ’cause Finn had to stay clean. He couldn’t get his hands dirty for nothing.
“Whatever you need, sir. You know that.”
He nodded with a dip of his chin, then finished his drink and set the glass on the table. “You’ve set men up with mistresses and girlfriends before.”
I’d been waiting for this, yet I hadn’t expected it so soon.
“Aye.” I eyed him carefully. His pain was as evident as usual.
But maybe it wasn’t so soon after all. It’d been over a year since Grace had died.
“Do you want me to arrange something for you?” I asked. “I can get it done in a couple of hours.”
He swallowed hard. “I miss human touch, but I don’t wanna see anyone.”
I felt my forehead crease. I could relate to the yearning, but I wasn’t sure if he was talking literally about the last part. “You mean you don’t want a relationship, or you want it anonymous?”
“Both,” he rasped. Then he cleared his throat. “I’m not looking for intimacy. Just physical. No faces, no names, no talking, no off-the-books apartment, nothing social.”
I nodded slowly, the alternatives appearing in my head—or disappearing, one by one. I wanted to say intimacy was exactly what he needed, but it was his choice. There were still options.
“That leaves you with massage parlors and fetish clubs,” I answered.
“It has to be dark,” he insisted. “Pitch black.”
Okay. He really didn’t wanna risk seeing a face. Fine, I could work with that. A certain underground club came to mind, and it was run by a friend of Colm’s. Aside from the main club being an essential location for our drug trade, it had an upstairs area with a VIP section, a hallway full of private booths, and a couple rooms with viewing windows for live porn.
“Any other preferences?” I asked. “I reckon you don’t care if she’s a blonde or a redhead in the dark, but body type? Age? You want her screened and on birth control so you can go without rubbers? You care about safewords? You want a subservient little thing or a bossy—”
“Jesus,” he muttered and rubbed his temples. “It suddenly feels too complicated. And at the risk of making it worse, I’d prefer a man.”
F*** my life. F*** my life hard.