The following is an excerpt from Remy’s Painter, the second book in the Werewolves of Manhattan Series. It will be released on June 19 from MLR Press and Amazon and All Romance shortly after that.
Friday, the last week in April
The April rain drizzled down on Ian Sullivan as he stood over the caskets of his father and brother. They were killed in a car accident on their way home near an intersection by the Queens-Midtown tunnel. Ian didn’t think their deaths were an accident. His brother, William Thomas Sullivan, Junior, owed over a hundred grand in gambling debts to Salvatore Ferrara, a loan shark connected with the local mob. Sal and his minions roughed Billy up once or twice, but the last time they told him to either pay up or else. Billy was frightened and told Ian that he was going to ask their dad for the money. Ian could have told him how fruitless an endeavor that would be.
William Senior had refused and reported the transaction to the police. Their dad was with Billy when the accident occurred. The police labeled the accident as suspicious.
Worse, the mob still wanted their money even though his brother was dead. Sal showed up on Wednesday night at the wake. “You, kid, your brother owed me a hundred grand. Somebody needs to pay up, so I’ll be collecting from you.” Sal stared him down.
“I don’t owe you any money. Billy did, and now he’s dead.”
Sal shoved Ian against the wall. The funeral home was empty. Ian was the only family member left, so no help was forthcoming.
Ian was scared. “I don’t have any money. The house, the accounts, the business, it’s all caught up in probate.” Ian’s voice was thin, reedy.
“You must have some money, kid. You live at home, you work and have no expenses, I checked. You’re going to get the house and the business, take a mortgage, the interest on your deadbeat brother’s loan is accruing as I stand here admiring your pretty face. I want to be paid.” Not letting go, he squeezed Ian’s arm until Ian knew he was going to bruise badly. Then he went for Ian’s crotch. Ian rotated his hips out of the way of Sal’s hand.
“Billy owed you money. You say I have to pay Billy’s debt. I’ll try, but I don’t owe you that.”
“We’ll see.” Sal leered.
“Please, I told you, everything is in the courts. It will be two months before I see a dime. I don’t have any money. What I had, I spent on the funeral.” Ian started to shake.
Sal stepped back. Ian’s legs were rubbery. He almost fell to his knees.
“I tell you what, kid, I feel sorry for you. You come up with five grand by next Friday as a gesture of good faith. I’ll wait for the rest until the house sells, but the chip keeps growing, so it better sell fast, or I’ll be taking it out in trade.” Sal put his hand around Ian’s neck and put some pressure on his larynx.
“I’ll be here on Friday, and you already know what will happen if I’m disappointed. I’ll take you instead of the money.”
Ian nodded his head like an automaton. “Friday, I’ll give it to you on Friday.” Sal left with his goons, and Ian sat down trembling with fear.
Ian was a house painter, just like his brother and father. All of their outstanding jobs were completed, and there was only one customer left that needed an estimate. Ian prayed he would get the job, or he would face Ferrara’s goons or worse, Ferrara himself. He didn’t know if he’d make it out alive because he refused to have sex with a man like Sal Ferrara.
Since he was only twenty-one and not his father’s favorite son, his salary from the business was a pittance. His father said he didn’t need more because he lived at home. Now, he was alone with no work scheduled in the coming weeks except the estimate he had to write up tomorrow. He tried to get money yesterday afternoon and was told by the bank that he couldn’t access the bank accounts even for the funerals, so that came out of his pocket.
Ian knew the job that needed the estimate required the type of custom work that very few painters could do. His ability was the reason his father kept him on the payroll after finding out Ian was gay. He was the only one who could work with frescos and faux finishes. He was Sullivan and Sons resident artist, and his artistry was the only reason they got upscale work. However, you would never have known that had you listened to his father complain about his youngest son.
“My son, the faggot,” was how his father referred to Ian. He hadn’t used Ian’s name once since he found out the truth. Billy was a gambler, a drunk, and sometime addict, but he was the good son. Now, because of Billy’s excesses, Ian had to sell the family home and rape the business to find enough money to pay his brother’s debts if he wanted to stay healthy and out of Sal’s clutches.
His father’s will left everything to Billy. Fortunately, he made no provision for the circumstance of Billy’s death. Despite his many flaws, Billy still loved his brother, and his will left everything to Ian. That, however, left everything in probate, and Sal still wanted his money.
He needed the new job, and he was going to have to do all the work himself because he couldn’t afford to pay a helper and still pay off Billy’s debts. He also needed the money to live on for two months and pay the loan shark. He wondered how he was going to eat.
As he threw dirt on both lowered caskets, inwardly, he cursed his brother for his stupidity and himself for not leaving his father’s business and striking out on his own three years ago when he first came out. If he didn’t get the job tomorrow, they would be digging his grave next because he wouldn’t become Sal’s boy toy.
Saturday, Last Week of April, Early Morning
Ian pulled up into the alley behind the address his father left. The house was huge. Ian surveyed the five stories plus a walk out basement. He desperately needed this job, and he didn’t think he had the chance of a snowball in hell once they found out there was only one painter instead of three.
His father paid him a pittance for the work Ian did for him. Most of the jobs the painting contractor bid on, they received because of Ian’s skills doing textured walls and custom paint. Ian wasn’t a martyr, however, and had been secretly collecting reference letters from customers who saw how hard he worked and watched his father treat him like shit on his shoes.
He had almost enough money to move out and had put out resumes to find other work before they both died, and now he was sucked into taking care of their affairs. Billy’s stupidity left him with no leeway. He had to get this job.
Gazing up again at the house, Ian sighed. Working by himself, the job would take him twelve to sixteen weeks if the house was empty and he could work twelve hour days, six days a week. And that was only if they wanted plain paint. If they wanted textures or faux finishes, it could take longer. He hoped like hell they didn’t want anything special and weren’t in a hurry, or he would surely lose the bid and maybe his ability to work if Sal Ferrara’s goons got him.
* * *
Rémy Clavier, the new second in command to the North American Council of Werewolves, sat in his new minimally furnished mid-Victorian townhouse on Columbia Heights in Brooklyn waiting for the painter. He bought the house when his friend the Chief Alpha of the council for all of the North American werewolves, Armand La Marche, requested that he take the position of COO of Garou Industries to replace the disgraced La Farge who was probably painting outhouses in Siberia at the tender mercies of the Russian council. So now Rémy, instead of commuting to council meetings from his pack lands in the Catskills for one week a quarter, had to be in New York City at the Garou corporate headquarters two weeks out of every month necessitating a city home.
When Armand first asked him to take the position, he told him, “Please, Alpha, I don’t want it.”
“That’s exactly why I want you to take it, my friend,” Armand said. “You’re not power hungry and will do the best job you can for our people rather than line your pockets and favor your own pack over the others.” Since Armand was one of his dearest friends, he acquiesced.
Armand had found his true mate, Sean, an Omega with the gift of the Voice. Sean and Armand were visiting all of the North American packs where Sean helped the bitches with childbirth because weres had difficult pregnancies and many stillborn pups. Sean’s gift eased the problems the bitches experienced with pregnancy and the birth. The Voice was the reason for most of the live births in the North American packs and the pups, once born, thrived.
Sean was a gifted potter, and he planned to study Native American pottery on their trip from pack to pack so Armand was basically on a yearlong honeymoon and when he returned, since he had a mate, he wouldn’t want to put in all the hours he used to work leaving Rémy to pick up the slack.
Rémy wished he was touring with them instead of staying in the Catskills and Brooklyn. He longed to find his true mate, and he thought touring the packs was the best way to find him.
“You can find your mate at anytime, anywhere,” Armand assured him.
Rémy raised his eyebrow at him dubiously. Armand laughed. “I found Sean on the street running away from a murderous Russian were.”
So far, Rémy hadn’t found his mate on pack lands in the Catskills or in the city. So here he sat, waiting for the painting contractor to give him an estimate to paint the walls of his seventy-eight hundred square foot home when he desperately wanted to be elsewhere.
The house overlooked Manhattan Harbor and was everything you could want in a house, but that was small compensation for Rémy, to give up his hunt for a mate for a five-story townhouse.
The real estate agent told him, “The kind of home you want is rare in the five boroughs and almost impossible to find in Manhattan.”
Rémy persisted. He needed a lot of bedrooms because unless he could buy houses nearby, his Betas would stay in the house with him along with Luc, his factotum, and his wife, Marie Claire who acted as his housekeeper. Luc and Marie Claire would need separate quarters with a sitting room and a full bath. His Betas had to have large bedrooms with a bath attached plus room for a television, an easy chair, and a king sized bed. Wolves were generally not small.
He wanted to be in Manhattan, but when the realtor showed him the house in Brooklyn, he fell in love on sight. If he had to stay in the city, he wanted it to be here. The house was beautiful, with seven bedrooms and eight full and three half baths. There were separate quarters for Marie Claire and Luc and rooms far enough away from his suite for the Betas to live their own lives. The house had a media room and wine cellar in the basement and there was a view of the bay and the Manhattan skyline from two terraces. After he closed on the house, Rémy found out that the rundown house next door was for sale, he bought it for his Enforcers. There were other smaller houses in the neighborhood for sale with four bedrooms each that he was in the process of purchasing so his Betas would eventually have their own homes and the excess bedrooms in his house could be used for visiting pack members or Alphas on the council.
Right now, he was staying in Alpha La Marche’s home in the Village, and he couldn’t wait to move out into his own space. The pack’s house in the Catskills, bought by his predecessor when he moved his headquarters to the Catskills from Quebec, didn’t feel like it was his although he’d lived there for sixty years.
The former Alpha took the main house as his own, modernized on the cheap, and added on to the guest cabins, so that most of the new pack that moved with the Alpha could stay together. He retired to Quebec at the age of four hundred and fifty, and Rémy, as the only Alpha in Training in his territory, took over the pack at a very young age.
As a wolf, he was young to be the Alpha of a region. Rémy was only seventy, but he was well trained for this job by the Chief Alpha himself. It was a tribute to Rémy’s acumen that he was asked to serve on the council as Alpha not only for his pack but also for the Northeastern Canadian and American packs at such young an age. He would have been content to stay as Alpha of the Catskill wolf pack and within his own territory, but destiny and the gods had other ideas. There was no one else to sit on the council and be in charge of the packs. Rémy was it.
Rémy sat in the kitchen. He heard Roland go to the front door only to find the painter had gone to the rear. The painter is here. He seems too young to be able to do such a large job. He’s at the kitchen door. He parked in the alley. Roland told him through the Alpha link.
I’ll answer the door and let him into the kitchen. Young or not, the company comes highly recommended.
Rémy opened the back door and stood by the stairs. Ian Sullivan stuck out his hand to shake Rémy’s. Rémy smelled green apples and cinnamon. They’re fingertips touched and Rémy’s inner wolf said, Mate—Mine.