Death, Love and Wednesdays
When his sister, Carrie, is murdered, bookshop owner Myles Foster gains custody of her precocious five-year-old son, Simon. He also has to deal with the reappearance of his ex-lover, Zayne, a private detective. While trying to come to grips with both, another woman is murdered.
Myles--with the help of Mazie, Simon's babysitter--learns to adjust to having a child in his life. Having Zayne back in his world is more problematic, since Zayne left Myles for a younger man. Slowly, but surely, Zayne tries to break down the walls between them as they attempt to figure out why Carrie was murdered and pass on their ideas to the detective in charge of the case.
Can the murderer be stopped before he kills again? And, more importantly, will Myles be able to cope not only with caring for Simon, but also learning to trust that Zayne might truly love him?
"You want me to do what?" Myles looked at his sister as if she'd lost her mind.
"It's only for a couple of hours. I have another job interview and I can't bring Simon with me. Please?" Carrie gazed hopefully at her older brother.
"What did I do to deserve this?" he grumbled.
"You agreed to be his in loco parentis in case of emergencies. Which"--she waggled a finger at him--"this is."
"More like you twisted my arm, just as you're doing now." Myles looked around his used bookshop, wondering how he could keep Simon entertained while the boy was there. He loved his nephew. He really did. But the kid was almost five and a very smart and energetic boy. "All right, I'll do it. Just don't take forever if you can help it."
"Thank you!" Carrie hugged him tightly. "I won't. I promise. I'll bring Simon over at one. Okay?"
Carrie kissed his cheek before hurrying out of the shop.
For the next two hours, between helping customers, Myles tried to figure out what to do with Simon. Set him down in the kids' book section and tell him to read? That would last all of half an hour before he gets restless. Give him the feather duster and set him to work? He chuckled at that idea. I'd have the cleanest bottom bookshelves in the city--and the dustiest kid. Oh well, I'll come up with something.
Then he had an idea. During a brief lull he dashed up to his apartment above the shop. Looking wildly around, he finally spotted the tablet he'd bought to give Simon on his birthday. "I guess you're getting it early," he murmured, taking it back down to the shop and stashing it behind the counter. One problem solved.
At exactly one on the dot, Carrie appeared with Simon in tow. The boy bounced over to say "Hi, Uncle Myles. Can I play upstairs?"
"Nope," Myles told him, ruffling Simon's blond hair. "You're staying down here where I can keep an eye on you."
"Okay. Can I read?"
"Help yourself. You know where the kids' books are."
"Can I get one from there?" Simon pointed to the aisle of shelves that had nature books, on the other side of the shop from the children's section.
"Simon," Carrie admonished, "do as your uncle says."
Heaving a sigh, Simon wandered away in the right direction.
"I should be back by three," Carrie told her brother. "Three thirty at the latest. Thanks again for doing this." Before Myles could reply, she was gone, waving back at him over her shoulder.
Almost before the door closed behind her it opened again, admitting a tall, dark-haired man just a bit older than Myles' age of thirty-two. Myles knew that because he knew the man. Zayne had shared the apartment with Myles for three years before suddenly moving out last December to take up residence with a newer--and younger--lover.
"To what do I owe this honor?" Myles asked scathingly, going behind the counter.
Zayne shrugged. "I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd say hello."
"Well you have. Now leave."
"I think I'll look around first. I need something to read." Zayne sauntered off, heading to the mystery and true crime section. That didn't surprise Myles in the least--both that Zayne had ignored his request or about Zayne's taste in reading material. Zayne was a private detective and often bought books related, however tangentially, to his business. "Gotta keep up with things," had been his excuse when he'd been living with Myles. From the number of research books on the subject Zayne had owned, Myles figured it was the truth.
"Uncle Myles?" Simon appeared in front of the counter. "I'm bored."
"How can you...?" Myles didn't bother to finish his question. Instead he said, "Would this help?" as he handed Simon the box with the tablet.
Simon broke into a huge grin. "For me?"
"No. For the kid who lives down the block. Yes, it's for you. It's an early birthday present."
"Oh boy! Thank you!" Simon carefully took the tablet out of the box and pushed the "On" button. When nothing happened, he handed it back, saying disappointedly, "It doesn't work."
"I think the battery needs to be charged." Myles took the cord from the box. "So, settle down here," he said, pointing to the chair behind the counter, "I'll plug it in then you can explore what you can do with it."
With Simon happily ensconced in the chair, Myles got back to business, helping a woman who was looking for books about the history of the city. As they passed the aisle with the crime books, Myles noted Zayne was sitting on one of the stepstools, his nose buried in, from what Myles could see of the cover, a true crime story. For a moment, Myles flashed back to when they had been together. Things were good--for a while. I wish I knew what changed. He smiled dryly. Well I do know. He didn't want to believe he was getting older. He thought he could stay young if he hooked up with a kid barely out of college. I wonder how that's worked out. Myles might have wondered, but no way in hell was he going to ask.
The shop got busy, somewhat to Myles' surprise since it was a Wednesday afternoon. Therefore, he didn't realize what time it was until nearly three thirty. I hope the fact Carrie's running a bit late means she got hired. His sister was a single mom who had lost her previous position two months earlier due to downsizing. For a while she had looked on it as a blessing in disguise. She'd saved enough money to pay her expenses and so was able to stay home with Simon through the rest of the summer before he started kindergarten. Now, with that about to happen, she had been job hunting. Myles knew she'd already had a few interviews, but she'd managed to find a babysitter for Simon so she could go to them--until today.
Simon had been fairly quiet but now he set the tablet down on the chair and came over to Myles, asking, "When's Mommy going to come get me?"
"I was wondering that myself. I bet she's on her way right now."
"Good, because I'm hungry." Simon looked at the clock on the wall behind the counter. "It's snack time."
"You can tell time already?"
Myles spun around, surprised to see that Zayne was still in the shop.
"Uh-huh. I have forever," Simon replied to Zayne's question.
"Smart kid. Do you remember me?"
"Yep. You used to live here then you left. Mommy said you were a real...a bad word I'm not supposed to say."
"Oh boy," Myles muttered.
Zayne seemed to find that more amusing than offensive, as he put two books down on the counter. "I'll take these."
"It took you almost three hours to decide? And why are you here and not working?"
"I took the day off since I just wrapped up a couple of jobs and wasn't in the mood to do background checks for one of my clients. This is a nice, relaxing way to...relax. Is that allowed?"
"It's your life so it's your choice." Myles rang up the books and took Zayne's credit card to pay for them. Then, against his better judgment, Myles said, "I'm surprised you didn't spend the day with what's-his-name."
"Kind of hard to do since David and I broke it off. He decided he wanted to be with someone who didn't work odd hours." Zayne smiled wryly. "And he found someone to fit the bill. He liked going out nights and with me...that wasn't always possible, as you well know."
"Very well," Myles replied, taking another look at the clock. Where the hell are you, Carrie?