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Billy Tripp nudged the nine-millimeter holstered under his suit jacket and decided this might be as good a time as any to meet his maker.
All he needed to do was slide that baby out, prop it under his chin andbangthe misery would be over.
After all the death defying experiences he'd had, killing himself in a hotel ballroom would be sub-par. Supremely sub-par.
Plus, he'd be dead.
"Cheer up, jagweed," Monk said, slapping him on the back.
"Why?" Billy glanced around the massive room at the sea of men and women dressed in sharp tuxedos and sexy, low cut gowns. As ballrooms went, Dante's ranked in the top ten. Funky red walls and icicle chandeliers gave it a more contemporary feel, but it was still a ballroom. And he'd seen plenty of them.
"It could be worse. This job is almost complete."
Billy scanned his immediate surroundings. "Yeah, but, dude, I'm guarding a necklace. There's not even a body attached to it."
Monk grinned. "You shouldn't have let your passport expire."
"First of all, I didn't let my passport expire. It just happened. An accident."
"You fucked up. Admit it." And then Monk started humming.
Humming? Really? Of course Monk was in a good mood. He'd just returned from overseas where he played with guns and blew crap up. Billy had been scheduled to take the next two-month shift, but got caught up in this expired passport mess.
How had he, an ex-Army ranger working for one of the country's most elite private security firms, forgotten to renew his fufudging passport?
And why the hell had he picked this month to promise his mother he would stop swearing? She'd asked him to do it and deserved his attention to the matter, that's why.
Even if it was slowly destroying him.
A woman in her fifties wearing a monster low-cut black gownthat thing has no business on her bodywandered to the table and locked in on him. Cripes.
"Fabulous, isn't it?" she asked.
He glanced at Monk, who rolled his eyes and stepped away to check his phone. "It is." Billy kept his focus on the room and any potential bad guys. The woman pressed a note into his hand. Great. Another one slipping him her number.
Ceasing conversation, he waited until the woman left and tucked the paper in his pocket with the other two. He'd get rid of them later. This routine, like most things, had lost its novelty long ago. Wasn't that a travesty? Early on, he'd enjoyed the steady stream of attention that accompanied women throwing themselves at him. He was a guy. And guys liked to get laid. Pretty simple.
Except it got old. The strange women. The crazy, strange women who parked themselves on his doorstep or called him night and day. Hell, he never misled anyone about his intentions. He always told them what it was.
"That was Vic." Monk grinned. "He said to say hi."
Not biting, Billy kept his gaze on the packed room. "Fufudge off. I could have had a new passport in a day or two, but Vic wanted to break my balls."
"He's teaching you a lesson. Next time, you won't forget. Besides, we've been in a lot worse places than a fundraiser in South Beach. In December."
Monk might as well take another hit off the crack pipe because he wasn't getting it. "Every time I turn around, Vic is hauling me into his office. And he had to bring up that little infraction when you beat the crap out of me last summer. Christ sakes, you nearly kill me and I get in trouble? All because I was ragging on you?"