TNA: Hey, guys, thanks for being here with us today. I can’t believe Mary set this up for me. I’ve been anxious to talk to you about a few things like, for instance, now that the book is getting set for publication, are you nervous at all? Feeling any anxiety about putting your story out there?
Ian: Why would I be anxious? Is someone going to be shooting at me?
Miro: Not today.
Ian: Well then, why would I be anxious?
Miro: (snickering) Ian never worries, do ya buddy?
Ian: I worry, but not about things that don’t matter. Why would I be anxious about what’s real and how I feel?
Miro: No reason. So no Lisa we’re good.
TNA: You know, your boss has lived a pretty public life, at least to Mary’s readers. Do you guys have any interest in reading about him now that he knows about you and you know about him? Or would you rather not know that much about Sam Kage? Too awkward, maybe?
Ian: Like what’s too much?”
Miro: I dunno (cackling) maybe, full-frontal.
Ian: Wait. What?
Ian: Oh screw you and screw you, Lisa! That’s disgusting. That man’s my––gross!
Miro: So yeah, to answer your question, I don’t think either of us are down with reading about Sam Kage in the nude
Miro: Definitely no.
Ian: The U.S. Marshals Service is the nation’s oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency. The Marshals Service occupies a uniquely central position in the federal justice system. as it is the enforcement arm of the federal courts––”
Miro: Not what she means. What do you do?
Ian: Like when?
Miro: On a daily basis.
Ian: It can be anything. Some days we retrieve fugitives, some days we transport criminals to court, we never do the same thing.
Miro: That’s why it’s good for you, huh? You never get bored.
Ian: That’s true I guess.
Miro: And is that the only reason you like it?
Ian: That’s half of it.
Miro: What’s the other?
Ian: You know.
Miro: Tell me.
Ian: I like being your partner.
TNA: Which leads me to my next question: Ian, no offense, dude, but it took you a while to get with the program. When did the Miro light bulb finally switch on? What was it that finally made you decide you needed him in your life as more than just a friend and work partner?
Ian: (coughs) The last time I was deployed, the whole time I was gone I was thinking that I wish I was home sitting on the couch with Miro. It kinda got me thinking. Sometimes things sneak up on you and everything makes sense alluva sudden. That’s my take on it anyway.
TNA: Miro, did you ever want to knock some sense into him? I mean that literally, of course. How hard was it for you not to tell him how you felt about him?
Miro: It’s really hard when you’re in a situation of taking a leap of faith or keeping something that’s precious to you. For me, having a partner who’s also my best friend was a lot to lose if I told him how I felt. It was a lot to consider. In the end, though, you have to try.
TNA: This won’t make a lot of sense to people right now, but do you guys miss the tricked out pimp-mobile at all? Are you a little sorry you never got the chance to sex it up right?
Ian: I have no idea what you just said.
Miro: Holy shit I never thought about that. We could’ve totally tricked that car out and fooled around in it.
Ian: That’s disgusting. Having sex in that car would be like putting a quarter in your mouth, it’s gross. You don’t know where it’s been. Christ, you’d need a damn tetanus shot after if we ever screwed around in that car.
Miro: Ohmygod, I can’t even breathe.
TNA: Speaking of, where’s the kinkiest place you’ve done it so far? And don’t feel as if you need to protect our delicate sensibilities, because we don’t have any.
Ian: That is none of your––”
Miro: I’m sorry to say he’s not adventurous yet in the least, Lisa, but I’m working on him. I’ll make an exhibitionist out of him yet.
Ian: The hell you will.
Miro: Gimme six months.
TNA: And now for the mushy part: each of you tell us a few things you love about the other.
Ian: He doesn’t take any shit, he never lies and he likes my dog.
Miro: (sighs) He’s dependable and loyal, and when he kisses me I can barely remember my name.
Miro: Don’t look so damn smug.
Ian: Can’t help it.
TNA: I’m putting you both on the spot now: do you think you’ll get married someday? If/when you do, do you see yourselves as big church affair types, or are you more Justice of the Peace kinda guys?
Miro: Oh––uh oh. Crap. Okay, baby, just breathe. Lisa, do you have a––oh, thank you. Here, E, breathe into the paper bag. Yeah, there ya go. In, out…good. Holy crap, woman, are you trying to give him a heart attack?
TNA: It’s a perfectly logical question.
Miro: (laughs) Yeah, but he’s not logical. And I tell you what, if I was ever going to marry anyone, it would be Ian, but we’re so not anywhere near that. We need to work out the us being together and working together part first. But if we ever did tie the knot, we’d just go down to the Justice of the Peace and––”
Ian: Big wedding ‘cause he deserves everything.
Ian: What’d I say?
Miro: That was good is all.
TNA: Do you think Mary would let you share an excerpt from the book with us?
Ian: Just a normal one. No full frontal.
Ian: He said yeah.
Blurb: Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones has a reputation for being calm and collected under fire. These traits serve him well with his hotshot partner, Ian Doyle, the kind of guy who can start a fight in an empty room. In the past three years of their life-and-death job, they’ve gone from strangers to professional coworkers to devoted teammates and best friends. Miro’s cultivated blind faith in the man who has his back… faith and something more.
As a marshal and a soldier, Ian’s expected to lead. But the power and control that brings Ian success and fulfillment in the field isn’t working anywhere else. Ian’s always resisted all kinds of tied down, but having no home—and no one to come home to—is slowly eating him up inside. Over time, Ian has grudgingly accepted that going anywhere without his partner simply doesn’t work. Now Miro just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn’t being tied down at all.
Excerpt: When I got out of the shower the next morning, I heard movement in my kitchen, so I moved to the railing at the end of my bed—there was just enough room there for me to walk—and yelled down that I was armed.
“Yeah? And?” came back the snide reply.
“You could ring the doorbell like a normal person,” I mentioned, smiling in spite of myself when Ian walked out of the kitchen directly below me and into the living room where I could see him.
“But I have a key,” he countered.
“Which you’re only supposed to use when I’m not here.”
“You’re never not here.”
I sighed. “Which if you think about, is really sad. I need a vacation to some tropical paradise so I can get laid.”
He squinted up at me. “Why can’t you just get laid here?”
The question, asked so innocently as he stood in the middle of my townhouse, was like a punch in the gut. Because I could have sex, right there, on the couch… bent over the couch, on the floor, or even better, in my bed. I could get laid anywhere in my home… if Ian were gay. I could. But I wouldn’t, because he wasn’t.
“I need a vacation,” I muttered, turning away since I was in a towel and nothing else. “And why’re you dressed like a lumberjack?” I shouted, wanting to make sure my voice carried.
“Why’re you yelling? I can hear you fine.”
There was no winning.
“Just tell me why you’re dressed like that,” I prodded.
“Homeland Security raid at that youth halfway house in Schaumburg. We have a lead on that girl, what was her name?”
I stopped halfway to my closet, having to make new clothes choices. “It’s Lucy, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Lucy Kensington. She skipped out before she could be taken into custody by marshals in Lubbock,” he said as he clomped up the stairs. For a Green Beret, Ian walked really heavy.
“I thought you were supposed to be stealthy.”
“I’m bringing you coffee, don’t be a dick.”
I chuckled as I grabbed a pair of briefs from my armoire, my low-rise jeans, a T-shirt, a Henley, and a pair of socks. “She’s the one who’s supposed to be testifying against some cult leader there, isn’t she?”
“Yeah,” Ian answered, reaching the top of the stairs and walking over to me, a mug in each hand. Instantly he grimaced.
“What?” I asked as I took the one he offered me.
“You have bruises all over you,” he remarked before taking a sip of coffee. “And between that and the cast on your wrist, you’re a fuckin’ mess, man.”
I shrugged. “I knocked down a moose yesterday, you saw me.”
“I guess,” he said irritably, frowning, reaching out to touch my shoulder. “Gross, why’re you slimy?”
“It’s lotion, ya heathen. You have to take care of your skin, use moisturizer on your face, or you’re gonna look like a saddle when you get old.”
“Uh-huh,” he said, obviously placating me. “Is your wrist better today? You sounded like it hurt last night.”
“It did, but it’s fine now. Go away while I get changed.” The coffee was good, he’d used the Kona I kept in the freezer instead of the French roast I had in the pantry.
He pointed at the clothes in my hand. “You can’t wear those jeans to a raid.”
“What?” I asked, drinking down more hot coffee. He was good about adding the right amount of cream so I could still taste it but drink it fast.
“I’ve seen those jeans on, and they’re way too tight. You can’t run in them. This is not Starsky and Hutch.”
I stared at him until he groaned, muttered under his breath, and went back downstairs. But he was right; all I needed to do was ruin a two hundred dollar pair of jeans sliding over asphalt. Returning to my closet, draining the mug as I did, I refolded them and picked something else to wear. Once I was changed, I brushed my teeth and then started putting product in my hair.
“Done yet, princess?” he demanded as he strolled into the bathroom.
I glared at him in the mirror. “Do you think I just roll out of bed and my hair looks this good? This is art.”
“It looks like you woke up and ran your hand through it.”
“I know, and that takes time. Each strand has to stand at a different angle or it doesn’t work,” I explained to my ignorant partner. “All the pieces have to be in the right place.”
“Or it’s not sexy.”
“You’re plenty sexy,” he yawned, snatching my empty cup off the counter before walking out. “Now, can we go before we’re too old to do our job?”
It was as good as it was going to get. I flipped off the light and walked to my bed so I could sit down and put on my harness boots.
“Corduroys?” he said like he was in pain.
“You didn’t notice in the bathroom?”
“I didn’t look in the bathroom,” he said dryly.
“Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t own a pair of Wranglers like you do,” I informed him. “Or Levi’s for that matter.”
“There’s nothing hotter than button-fly, my friend.”
He had a point.
“But really, your fuck-me jeans would not have gone over well.”
I ignored him, and when I stood up, he winced.
“How much did those boots cost?”
I lifted my foot to check the bottom. “I dunno, three, four hundred.”
“Please take them off. I know my black leather combat boots are in your closet somewhere; just wear those. I beg you.”
“These are boots.”
“No, they’re not,” he cajoled. “C’mon.”
“I have a pair of Antonio Maurizi wingtip boots that I could—”
“I don’t know what those are, but I can’t imagine they’re any better than what you’ve got on your feet right now. Just change ’em.”
“I have the biker boots that—”
“No, I have your biker boots from that Saturday we went out to the farmers’ market.”
“Oh.” Funny that I hadn’t even missed them. “Do you have the Dolce&Gabbana distressed-leather biker boots or the—”
“I have no idea what I have. They’re soft, that’s all I know.”
I had to think.
“Yeah, okay,” I muttered, sitting back down and pulling off the boots as he stalked over to my closet, rummaged around, and came back with his beat-up military-issue combat pair. They were worn but still in great shape, and most of all, stupid as it was, they were Ian’s and so I loved wearing them. And they fit like a glove.
“God, I should move in,” he grumbled, oblivious as I stopped breathing. The things that came out of that man’s mouth would be the death of me. “Imagine how much faster this would go in the morning if you didn’t have to think: should I wear the Antonio-whoever shoes instead of the—”
“Antonio Maurizi,” I yelled as he took the stairs.
“Like I fuckin’ care!”
I followed him down minutes later, and when I went to the hall closet and pulled out my chester coat, he stopped me.
“Grab your uniform parka and let’s go.”
He growled, so I grabbed what he wanted, made sure I had my badge, gun, ID, wallet, keys, and phone, and then went out ahead of him.
After he locked my front door, he shook his head like I was exhausting and charged down the front stoop.
“Why’re you mad at me?”
“Do you have any idea how long it takes me to get ready in the morning?”
I grinned wide. “That’s because you’re naturally gorgeous. I have to work at it. Getting this level of pretty doesn’t come easy.”
“Get in the car!”
I was still chuckling when I got in and told him I needed more coffee.
“If you didn’t take so long in the bathroom, you could chug down more caffeine.”
“Yeah, well, again. I need time to look this good.”
He pulled away from the curb like he was driving the getaway car in a bank heist, and instantly I had to grab hold of the dash.
The wicked smile was not lost on me.
TNA: Thanks again to both of you for being here with us today. No getting shot, stabbed, or otherwise maimed before you come back to see us. That’s a direct order.
THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED