Title: Undercover in Paradise
Series: Paradise, Book Two
Author: John Patrick
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 01/25/2022
Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, New adult, MM romance, humorous, postapocalypse, transgender, religious order, anxiety, dark, blackmail, undercover DEA agent
DEA Agent Hector Ramirez is on his first undercover mission. He’s been sent to a Buddhist monastery deep in the woods of Maine, where he’s investigating a confusing web of connections between a Peruvian drug gang, a prominent Mormon family and the monastery’s leaders.
Dallin Rigby, the young son of a prominent Mormon family, has been sent on a year-long retreat while the scandal associated with his mission to Peru dies down. The men, the sex, the blackmail tape—there’s a lot to get past. He’s not looking forward to a year in the middle of nowhere, but the presence of the attractive Brother Hector might make his time in exile more bearable.
No one at the isolated monastery is aware of the disaster unfolding outside its walls, as a man-made virus sweeps the globe, killing nearly everyone. Cut off from his contacts, and with dwindling supplies, Hector sets out with Dallin to learn what has happened. As the attraction between the two men grows, Hector begins to question the necessity of remaining undercover. But is it too late for him to finally be honest with Dallin, about his job and about himself?
My boss pressed his fingers onto the top of my desk and leaned well into my personal space.
“I just sent you an email,” he said with a suspicious grin. “Open it, Special Agent.” I hated how he sneered at my new title. Until last week, I’d been Hector Ramirez, New Agent Trainee, the lowest of the DEA’s investigative ranks. I liked Special Agent better.
He stood there looming over me. So, I guessed we were doing this right now. I closed my expense report and clicked on his email. There was no title and no text. Just a link to what looked like an encrypted video. Was this a test? I hovered my mouse pointer over the link; nothing looked suspicious. I glanced up at him, a question on my face.
“Go ahead; it’s not a trick.” He paused for a moment. I could tell there was something else, so I waited. “It’s definitely NSFW, though.”
Okay. He wanted me to open a not-safe-for-work link. Now. At work.
I looked around the open space. My newly installed desk was wedged into a corner of the large operations room. There was no one nearby.
“You’ll like it. He’s just your type too,” he added.
What an asshole. He had no idea what my type was, although he knew I was gay, of course, and trans. I’d had to be up front about that; the extortion risk in my line of work was just too high to try to keep that type of thing private.
Besides, it was one of the reasons I was here. I’d been brought on during a push to expand diversity in the ranks, and I knew for a fact most of the other agents thought that was the only reason I was here, which wasn’t true at all. I was as qualified—more qualified—than many of the other guys. Being gay and trans just gave me a shot at being considered for the job.
Behind my back, and sometimes just within range of my hearing, they’d call me a two-for. Two for one. Gay and Latino.
Or sometimes it meant trans and Latino. But never a three-for. The whole gay and trans thing really confused these guys. Sometimes I heard them whispering, “Why would you become a gay dude when you could already get guys as a chick?”
I shook my head to clear it and refocused on the possible trap my boss had set. “This is work-related, right? You’re ordering me to play this video, and it’s necessary for my job?” I was asking for the benefit of any cameras, official or unofficial, that might be capturing this moment.
“Very good, Ramirez. A healthy dose of skepticism and mistrust is necessary for a DEA agent, especially a new one.”
“And, yes,” he said with a sigh, “I am ordering you to play this video.”
Good enough. I launched the video.
A naked young man walked past an expanse of windows, the view outside hidden by the closed drapes. He carried two bottles of water, and as the camera tracked his movement, it became apparent he was in a hotel room, possibly a suite, given the furniture and size of the space.
And, ha, ha, I get it. My type. He looked just like me—short and wiry with light coffee-colored skin and straight jet-black hair. I felt uncomfortably exposed sitting at my desk with Director Ferguson leaning in behind me. On the monitor, the man who looked like me took a few steps toward another naked man of similar build and color. The second man held a remote control and stood by a low table. A flat-screen TV mounted to the wall above displayed its own collection of naked men.
The first guy handed a bottle of water to the second, then ran his hand down the other man’s back. Great, the director and I were going to watch gay porn together at work. My parents would be so proud. The two men were speaking, but I couldn’t hear anything. I toggled the volume.
“Don’t bother. There’s no sound,” Ferguson said. “It gets better,” he added, a disturbingly gleeful tone to his voice. I had a bad feeling about this.
The two men turned together and walked to a bed, where they playfully tugged on the foot of yet a third man, lying on the oversized bed, just coming into view as the camera tracked their movements.
Now that the initial shock had faded, I began to pay attention to what I was seeing. First, the camera—it was too steady for a handheld, and it panned smoothly across the room following the men. I guessed it was positioned, possibly hidden, somewhere across the room and was being operated remotely. Second—the surroundings. It was a party room for sure. Empty bottles of alcohol, room service trays, and plates were scattered on desktops; dropped clothes and towels lay next to the bed.
The third man—the one on the bed—was coming fully into view. He looked very much like the others, which is to say like me, and he was laughing as the other two clambered onto the bed on top of him.
Why are we watching this?
“And, now, for something completely different…” my boss murmured.
The camera continued to pan across the bed and revealed, wow…a massive mountain of a blond-haired guy, young, early twenties maybe, and as naked as the others, with light, golden hair dusting his chest, belly, and thighs. I swallowed and tried not to react. He was on his back, his left arm holding the guy on the bed in a tight embrace. He looked…blissful. Maybe on drugs, but certainly in control of himself, so not drugged, exactly. Just…happy?
And, yeah, just my type. Like, exactly my type. But Director Ferguson couldn’t possibly know that. He must have been referring to the Latinos. I paused the video and swiveled my chair to look up at Ferguson. “Why are we watching this?” I asked.
“This is the Peruvian drug gang we’ve been tracking out of Bangor.”
Really? I reversed the video to get a better shot of the faces of the first two, grateful to move the young man with the golden hair off-screen. I studied them for a moment. I’d seen all the surveillance pictures we had of the Bangor gang. “They don’t look familiar,” I said.
“This was filmed in Peru.”
“Oh.” I was feeling lost. “So, who is—”
“Dallin Rigby,” Ferguson interrupted. “Twenty-two years old now. Twenty-one when the film was made. He’s a Mormon…”
Of course he is.
“But he’s about to attend a yearlong retreat in a Buddhist monastery. In Maine. Northern Maine.” He let that sink in.
Meet the Author
John Patrick lives in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, where he is supported in his writing by his husband and their terrier, who is convinced he could do battle with the bears that come through the woods on occasion (the terrier, that is, not the husband).
John is an introvert and can often be found doing introverted things like reading or writing, cooking, and thinking deep, contemplative thoughts (his husband might call this napping). He loves to spend time in nature—“forest bathing” is the Japanese term for it—feeling connected with the universe. But he also loathes heat and humidity, bugs of any sort, and unsteady footing in the form of rocks, mud, tree roots, snow, or ice. So, his love of nature is tempered; he’s complicated that way.
John and his husband enjoy traveling and have visited over a dozen countries, meeting new people, exploring new cultures, and—most importantly—discovering new foods. After such travels, John invariably comes down with a cold. During a trip to Japan in 2019, he was amazed by how many people wore surgical masks in public to protect both themselves and others from viruses. “Gosh,” John thought, “wouldn’t it be great if we’d do this in the US?” John sometimes regrets the wishes he makes.
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