Saturday, April 30, 2016

'Premonitions' is out


Artist Daniel Chase moves into the house he inherited from his grandfather -- with the proviso he must live there or lose it. Soon after, he begins to get premonitions that something isn't right. Then he meets Griffin Pryce, a handsome man who lives off the grid. They become friends when Griffin agrees to become the subject for one of Daniel's paintings.

Before that can happen, Daniel's ex Ray arrives, wanting to partner with Daniel to turn the house into a fancy restaurant. When Daniel says no, Ray sends a man to threaten him if he doesn't sign the contract Ray has drawn up. Daniel refuses and things go from bad to worse.

With Griffin's help, can Daniel stop Ray's machinations? As the attraction between Daniel and Griffin grows stronger, will it -- and they -- survive what Ray does next?

    Daniel shivered, looking up from the book he was reading.

    There it is again. The feeling that something is off. Mellie’s ghosties and goblins? As if. But still ...

    With a hard shake of his head, he returned to his reading, but he couldn’t rid himself of the notion that something wasn’t right. Probably because I’m still not used to being out here in the wilderness, so to speak, even after having been here for the last two weeks. “Get used to it,” he said aloud. “This is my home now and it’s exactly what I want. Peace and quiet.” He snapped his fingers. “Maybe. Yeah, that’s got to be it. No city noises. No horns blaring, no sirens, no noisy neighbors at eleven at night.”

    Closing the book, he went to turn down the thermostat and then took the book with him up to his bedroom and set it on the nightstand. He walked to the window, pulling back the sheers to look out at the moonlit side yard and the trees that lined its edge. For a second he thought he saw something moving between the trees and his pulse spiked. Then he laughed softly. “A deer, perhaps? Or one of the bears Griffin mentioned, looking for an open trashcan? I guess that’s why Gramps kept it in the garage rather than by the back porch. Good thing I didn’t move it.”

    He watched for a moment longer, looking for what he thought he’d seen, but to no avail. Whatever it was, it was gone now. Giving up, he undressed and went to take a shower. When he finished, he put on flannel pajamas and a robe and went downstairs to make certain all the doors and windows were securely closed and locked. Then he made a cup of tea to ward off the slight chill he was feeling and returned with it to his bedroom. Turning on the bedside lamp, he shut off the overhead light and, impulsively, went to the window again.

    The moon had shifted and it was almost too dark to see anything other than the vague outline of the trees at the edge of the lawn. Once again he thought he saw something move, this time along the outer boundary of the yard, before disappearing into the forest a few seconds later. He shook his head, letting the curtain drop back into place, telling himself, “It was only my mind playing tricks on me. Nothing more.”

    He got into bed, leaning against the backboard so he could drink his tea and read. About halfway through one of the short stories, he realized something that he should have figured out much earlier. It could be this book that’s setting me off. It was one that he’d found on the bookshelves in the living room -- an old anthology of short fantasy tales. Not his usual type of reading, but the cover had caught his fancy. With that thought, he closed the book, finished the last of his tea, and turned off the light. Curling up under the covers, he reminded himself to check out what other books were in his grandfather’s library and pick something less likely to stimulate his imagination—like a good mystery or some hard sci-fi, both of which were much more to his liking anyway.

The Colors of Hate - 17

“Believe me, I’ve never been in a relationship, so there’s no one I’d have to hide from,” Dean said.

“Are you serious? You’re twenty-six, and yeah of course I know that,” Kirby added when Dean looked startled. “It’s part of the information we have about you. Anyway, you’re twenty-six and never had an affair or been with a man for more than say one night?”


“That’s insane!”

“This coming from a cop who is probably as closeted as I am.”

Kirby shook his head. “Not at all. I don’t flaunt it—in point of fact most people outside of work don’t know, other than my family and a few close friends—but I am out and have been for quite a while.”

Dean looked at him in surprise. “The other cops know?”

“Yeah. The stereotype of homophobic cop is, if not a myth, at least fading somewhat. The guys I work with know, and most of them don’t really give a damn as long as I do the job required of me.”

“Must be nice,” Dean said pensively.

Kirby nodded. “It makes life easier.” After studying Dean, who was now staring down at his cup of coffee as if it contained some answer he was seeking, Kirby asked, “Do you want to talk?”

“Wouldn’t do any good.”

“Does your sister know?” When Dean nodded, Kirby continued. “I have the feeling she may be the only one in your family who does.”

“You’re right,” Dean replied tersely.


“That’s none of your business.”

A thought occurred to Kirby then and he said, although he was fairly certain he was way off base, “Technically it could be. If you actually did tell Ms Westcott you were gay to get her to leave you alone, and she threatened to let everyone know…” He left the sentence hanging as he watched Dean.

Dean shook his head sharply. “That didn’t happen.”

“But if it had, and you’re desperate to keep your family from finding out, it would give you a hell of a reason to kill her.”

“I am not ‘desperate’ as you put it. It would just…” Dean scrubbed his hand over his forehead. “Cause problems”

“With your parents. Half the gays in this country have gone through that and survived.”

“Have you ever heard of the Classic Values Alliance?” Dean asked, seemingly out of the blue.

Kirby scowled. “CVA? Damned right I have. It’s so anti-gay if makes other homophobic organizations look like kiddy groups. Someone should have strangled the minister who founded it… Oh hell!”

Dean nodded. “Lou Travers. He’s my father.”

“Whew. Okay, now I get why you’re hiding the fact from him.”

“No shit,” Dean growled.

“I’d take it his indoctrination didn’t work on your sister, since she knows about you. He must be seeing red that the two of you are in the theater, the bastion of all things ‘gay’.”

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Colors of Hate – 16

Kirby looked up again as the door to the coffee shop opened to let someone in. And again it wasn’t Dean. He checked the time, shook his head, and got up, tossing a couple of dollars on the table to tip the young woman who had come by several times to top off his coffee.

"I should have expected at much. After all, it was just a hunch that he might actually want to talk," he muttered as he headed across the room to leave.

He stepped out onto the busy sidewalk without really paying attention to where he was going and almost ran into someone.

“I thought you wanted to talk to me,” Dean said, backing away a bit.

Kirby gave him a half smile. “And I thought you weren’t coming.”

“Well I did.”

“And I do.” Kirby turned back, opening the door then waiting for Dean to go in ahead of him. The table he’d just vacated was still available so he headed for it.

“Sorry I’m late, but I did say we ‘might’ be finished by eight. It wasn’t a definite.”

“I know, I know.” Once they were both seated he asked Dean, “Coffee, or something else?”

“Coffee. I’ll get it. You want some too?”

Kirby considered the question before shaking his head. “I’m floating in it already. A bottle of mango juice I think.”

With a nod, Dean headed to the counter. Kirby watched him then quickly turned away when he realized he was looking at him as a man, possibly an interesting one, rather than a suspect in a murder case.

When Dean returned, setting down their drinks before taking the chair opposite Kirby’s, he said, “So what’s so important you needed to talk to me?”

“First off, we’ve partially eliminated you as a suspect.”

Which was the truth, as far as it went. Before he’d left the theater earlier in the day Kirby had picked up one of the programs, which had pictures of the cast and other people of importance, including Dean’s. From there he’d gone to the Red Moon where he’d shown it to the waiters and bartenders who had been there the night of the murder. None of them had recognized Dean, which at least gave credence to the claim that he didn’t go barhopping with the rest of the people in the company. When he’d also asked if any of the men even vaguely resembled the one Ms Westcott had left with, all of them said ‘no’, including the two who had gone down to the station to work with the sketch artist.

“That’s good to know, although I’d prefer being totally eliminated,” Dean replied.

“Unfortunately, while you have a decent alibi, it’s not perfect. Just because you were working late does not mean you couldn’t have met up with her after she left the bar.”

“True, but doesn’t that hold true for any of us?”

“It does. Some people have firm alibis even though they were at the club. Others, like you, are iffy at best.”

“But you don’t think it was me.”

Kirby shrugged. “I’m leaning that way. Not because you couldn’t have killed her, but because I don’t see that you have a motive.”

“To get her off my back?”

“I think beating her to death is a bit drastic, especially since her coming on to you so forcefully made a good cover for you, even it you did try to stop her from doing so.

Dean nodded slowly. “I’ll admit you’ve got a point. Not one I’d thought about but I suppose it did.”

Kirby leaned back, looking at him. “Why?”

“Why didn’t I think about it?”

“No. Why, especially in a place where no one would care, and I’d be willing to bet there are at least a few gay men who are out at the theater, are you trying so hard to keep your orientation a secret?”

“Personal reasons.”

Kirby snorted. “No shit. That’s usually the reason. Family? Someone you’re hiding from?”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Colors of Hate – 15

Kirby left the booth, going down to the back of the auditorium. The rehearsal was still in progress. He could see people sitting in the front few rows watching. If it was the same as two days ago, when they’d come to let the company know about Ms Westcott’s murder, he figured Mr Travers would be one of them, although he couldn’t pick him out as they were all silhouetted by the lights from the stage.

He walked down an aisle, taking a seat to one side, a few rows back from the others. Now he could see the men, and one woman, more clearly. Travers’s attention was tightly focused on what was happening on stage. Once in a while he seemed make a note about something.  

Fifteen minutes later Kirby was considering going down and pulling Travers away to talk to him. He was saved from interrupting when the director stood and told the actors to take a ten minute break between acts.

Kirby hurried down to the row behind Travers, tapping him on the shoulder. “May I have a few words with you?” he asked when the man turned to look at him.

“Right now?” When Kirby nodded, Dean sighed. “Here or..?”

“One of the offices would be better.”

“All right.” Dean stood and led the way to his office next to the costume shop. When they were inside he frowned, saying, “Make it quick please. We are in the middle of a rehearsal.”

“I understand that. Were you the only one who stayed late the night Ms Westcott was murdered?”

Dean smiled slightly. “I suspect you already know the answer to that, if you’re any good at your job. I wasn’t, but since I didn’t see Olsen or his assistant, and he probably didn’t see me, we can’t really alibi each other. If that’s what you’re looking for.”

Kirby gave him a small smile in return. “It is. Olsen said his man says he did hear someone moving around though.”

“That would have been me, unless there was someone else here that none of us knew about.”

“Would that have been possible?”

“Yes. Once the security guard knows who’s staying late, which he makes note of, he arms the system and then leaves. We all know that, and anyone can return if they want to, just as anyone here can leave, as long as they have a key and know the code.” Dean relaxed marginally, leaning back against his desk as he talked.

“Who would those people be?”

“Shouldn’t you be asking someone who isn’t a suspect?”

“What makes you think that’s what you are?”

Dean snorted. “I’m not stupid. I had a fight with her, if you want to call it that. You’re here asking questions. One plus one equals two in my book.”

“True,” Kirby agreed. “But, I for one don’t think of you as a suspect.”

“Why not?” Dean asked with surprise

“Because there’s something you neglected to tell her, which would have made her back off and leave you alone. Why you didn’t, I have no clue, but…” Kirby looked questioningly at Dean.

“Believe me I did my best, even to the point of insulting her, which I told you about.”

Kirby shook his head. “If you’d told her you were gay I think that would have done it.”

“But I’m not…” Dean dropped his eyes to stare at the floor. “What makes you think that?”

“Good instincts, plus I saw you at a club a while back.”

“Oh shit!” Dean would have said more but a knock on the door and someone’s calling out that it was time to get back to work stopped him.

“I want to continue this conversation if you don’t mind,” Kirby told him.

Dean shook his head. “There’s no reason to,” he replied tightly as he pushed off the desk and went to open the door.

“Yeah, there is.” Kirby thought for a minute. “I’ll meet you at the coffee shop on First and Main. What time?”

“No time,” Dean growled.

Kirby chuckled. “Guess I’ll just have to ask someone else when the rehearsal will be over then come back and wait for you.”

“No fucking way. Okay, with luck we’ll be finished by eight. I’m not saying I’ll meet you there but… I’m not saying I won’t.”

You will. Kirby's smile held a trace of amusement. Now you’re intrigued about why I want to talk more with you. Aloud he only said, “I’ll be there,” and left it at that.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Colors of Hate – 14

“What do you think?” Reid asked, handing the finished sketch to Kirby.

Kirby studied it, tapping a knuckle against his teeth as he did. “I don’t know. There’s a vague resemblance, but…”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, ‘but’. It’s in the eyes mainly. The rest could have been altered if you knew what you were doing.”

“It doesn’t make sense though. Why him?”

“Only one way to find out, though not until we’ve finished checking alibis.”

“He doesn’t really have one unless… Tell you what, I’ll check his out, you deal with the others.”

Reid arched an eyebrow then nodded. “Go for it.”

* * * *

“I see. So once everyone is gone, you turn on the security system and take off as well,” Kirby said.

The guard nodded. “Pretty much so, yeah. Sometimes one of the bigwigs stays behind to work on something but they all have the codes so they can get out on their own.”

“Do you keep a record of who does that?” Kirby asked him.

“Sure.” The guard shuffled a pile of papers on his desk, which was situated by the rear door of the theater. He finally found the one he wanted. “Which day?”

“Two nights ago.”

“Okay. Mr Travers and Mr Olsen, and one of Olsen’s crew were here late. There’s no way of telling when they actually left though.” He shook his head in disgust, adding, “Mr Nester didn’t see any reason to have the security company track the times when the system was armed or disarmed.”

“Too bad, because that might have helped us. Olsen’s the lighting tech, right?”


“Is he here now?”

The guard snorted. “It’s final dress so everyone’s here, and busy. You’ll play hell trying to talk to him right now.”

“Where would I look?”

“In the auditorium or the lighting booth. Try that first.”


After the guard told him how to get to it, Kirby made his way to the booth. When he got there an older man shot a look at him, telling his he wasn’t supposed to be there.

Kirby flashed his badge before asking, “Are you Mr Olsen?”

The man nodded, sighing. “Can’t this wait?”

“I just have a couple of quick questions. You and one of your crew were working late the night Ms Westcott was killed, right?”

“Yes. And before you ask, we were together the whole time, making what we hoped were final adjustments on some of the lights.”

Kirby smiled slightly, looking up at lights hanging from the catwalks above them. “Better you than me. What I really want to know though is, did you see Mr Travers at any point while you were here?”

After a moment’s thought Olsen shook his head. “I didn’t, but let me ask Mike.” He crossed to one of the men manning the lighting board. A minute later he was back. “He says he heard someone moving around backstage but didn’t see anyone. I guess it could have been Dean.”

“Thank you. That’s all I needed to know.”

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Colors of Hate – 13

Dean finished checking to make certain that everyone had returned all their costumes before picking up the ones that needed minor fixes or alterations. “The joys of dress rehearsals,” he grumbled, depositing them on the rack in the costume shop.

“Especially ones that run into the wee hours of the morning.”

He turned to smile at Carrie. “Why aren’t you home in bed? At least you’ve got the option.”

“Because I figured you could use some help.” Carrie glanced around with a shake of her head. “You sent your crew home, didn’t you?”

“Yes. No reason they should suffer too. Besides, they did yeoman’s work during the rehearsal so there’s not that much left for me to do.”

Carrie picked out a tunic, read the note Dean had pinned to it and set to work repairing a small tear in the seam. Dean took one of the dresses that needed a minor repair and together they worked in companionable silence.

“So,” Carrie said as she hung up the last costume she’d been dealing with, “do you think they’ll catch whoever killed Ange?”

Dean chuckled, although it wasn’t really a laughing matter. “I wondered when you’d bring the subject up. I sure hope they do, and that it wasn’t someone from the company.”

Carrie nodded, worry in her voice as she replied, “Do you think it could have been?” 

“Don’t you?”

“I guess it’s possible. She ruffled enough feathers. But you don’t beat someone to death just because she made a play for your man, or didn’t make a play for you, or did, or… well you know.”

“Yeah, I know. You were at the club. Did she piss anyone off there?”

“Mal, unfortunately. Me, sort of, though it blew over quickly enough when Jim let her know he was definitely not interested.” A brief frown crossed her face before she said, “I hope the detectives don’t think…”

“Carrie, I’m sure they’re good at what they do. They know how to filter what’s important from what’s not.” He patted her shoulder before beginning to pick up the costumes to return them to the various dressing rooms “If they listen to what everyone told them, they’ll know you and Jim kissed and made up. I mean you did, didn’t you?”

“Oh yeah.” Carrie smiled at the memory of the ‘makeup’ kiss. “We did and then we spent the rest of the time there joined at the hip.”

“As always. Hey, speaking of which, where is he?”

“I sent him home to sleep. He was exhausted, since Frank wanted him and Mal to work more with Tayla once the run-through was over. She’s going to be good, maybe even better than Ange.”

“I got it!” Dean grinned. “Frank dusted Ange so he’d have a reason to give Tayla the role full time.”

“Or she did it.” Carrie picked up the remaining costumes, trailing along behind her brother. “I can see the headlines now. ‘Understudy kills star. Wanted lead in show’.”

“Right, uh huh.” He paused to hang up some of the costumes he was carrying on the rack in the main dressing room, waiting for Carrie to do the same. As they continued on to the stars' dressing rooms he shook his head. “I honestly don’t see any of us being the killer.”

“Me neither. I mean, okay, maybe Mal was jealous and upset with her dancing with that guy but…” When Dean asked, because he hadn’t been there, she explained.

“He was fine when he left after supper?”

“He seemed to be, yes. We got him laughing and telling theater stories.”


They finished up and then, both of them yawning in unison, decided it really was time to leave. “And pray nothing else happens to screw things up,” Dean said as he set the alarm then locked the back door of the theater behind them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Colors of Hate – 12

“We have a description of the man Ms Westcott was last seen with, but no name,” Officer John Ferron said, as soon as Reid and Kirby returned to the station house. “Tall, about six-one according to at least three of the witnesses, dark brown hair, well but casually dressed, two say hazel eyes, one says green…”

“Could be hazel then, with the right light making them greener,” Kirby pointed out.

“True,” John said before continuing. “One of the women said he had ‘kissable’ lips. When I asked what that meant she told me they were full and sexy.” 

Reid laughed. “That’s definitely a female description. Was this his first time at the club?”

John shook his head. “They all say he’s been there before, but doesn’t stay long. Just has a drink or two, danced once or twice, and then left.”

“With Ms Westcott this time, from what our witnesses told us,” Kirby said. “Has he left with anyone before?”

“No. I asked and the people I talked to said no—but he did leave with her. They’re all in agreement about that.”

Reid nodded. “We need to get a couple of them to meet with our sketch artist.”

John smiled. “I took the liberty of arranging that. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not in the least. I like officers who can actually think for themselves.” He turned to Kirby. “That description, such as it is so far, doesn’t match anyone from the theater.”

“If it had, then at least Mr Leads, Ms Travers and Mr Eckert would have said something, as they all watched him with Ms Westcott. No, I’d say he’s definitely an outsider to the group.”

“Don’t jump to conclusions, Reid. We’re talking actors here. It’s possible with good make-up and a wig someone could have fooled them. John, how well is the dance floor lit?”

“It’s darkish with lots of strobe lights flashing.”

“So, possibly, that doesn’t rule out one of the men in the company. We need to check alibis for anyone of them who wasn’t at the club.”

“No shit, Reid,” Kirby muttered.

“Sorry, I’m tired and going for the obvious statement.”

“Then let’s head out. It’s too late to be doing that tonight anyway. In the morning we’ll have working brains again, hopefully.”

“Sounds good to me. John, when are the people supposed to meet with the sketch artist?”

“Ten a.m.”

“All right. Thanks.” Reid picked up his jacket, slung it over his shoulder, and headed for the squad room door. After checking he hadn’t forgotten anything, Kirby followed with John right behind him.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Colors of Hate – 11

“So what do we know?” Reid said as he and Kirby left the theater.

“Ms Westcott was a predator as far as men go, a good actress, and quite frankly not too well liked by the majority of the people we talked to. Not hated, but not someone they particularly wanted to hang out with, even though they did.”

“No one seems to have a motive for killing her, and certainly not that viciously.”

“Agreed. Leads might have been upset if he thought she was going to go off with the man she was dancing with, but I’d presume he’s seen her with a lot of other men and done nothing, so why would he suddenly blow up now.”

“Carrie Travers had a bit of a set-to with her, but it certainly doesn’t sound like anything major. More of a flash of worry that Mr Eckert might have responded to Ms Westcott’s come-on due to their past history, would be my guess.”

“Yep. And I think we can pretty well eliminate Mr Travers.”

Reid cocked an eyebrow. “He did have that fight with her, or her with him.”

“He wasn’t the least bit interested in her so why kill her? I’m surprised he didn’t just tell her and be done with it.”

“From what he said, he did.”

Kirby shook his head, smiling with amusement. “Sometimes Reid you are so dense. Mr Travers’s is gay. I don’t think he’s out to the people he works with. In fact, I’d be willing to bet he isn’t, which considering they’re theater people is surprising, but he is gay.”

“You’re gaydar at work again?”

“That and the fact I saw him at a club a couple of months ago. Luckily he didn’t recognize or remember me.”

“Which devastates you,” Reid said with a laugh.

“Not in the least and you know it. The fewer civilians who know I’m gay the better. I do not want to be the poster boy for ‘Gay Cop’ of the year.”

“Yeah, I know. Come on, poster boy; let’s go see what John dug up, if anything.”

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Colors of Hate – 10

By mid-afternoon Reid and Kirby had interviewed everyone who had gone to Red Moon the previous evening. They learned nothing more than they already knew. Everyone agreed Angela was her usual self, flirting with men, occasionally getting one or another of them to dance with her then moving on. Most of them had, however, been surprised when she seemed to have hooked up with someone not in the company. Four different people said she had left with the man; two others weren’t quite as certain but thought she had.

“Now the question is, who was this mysterious man? I hope John’s come up with someone from the club who might have noticed and know.” Reid stretched then said, “One more to go and we can call it a day, at least here.”

“Mr Nester. I’ll go get him.”

Kirby returned minutes later with Frank Nester, who was not a happy camper.

“I don’t know why you feel you need to talk to me. I know nothing about last night. I was at home with my wife soon after we finished up here.”

“We just have a few questions. I understand you’ve hired Ms Westcott.”

“Of course. I’ve hired the majority of the people who work here—the crew heads and all the actors. It is my company after all.”

Reid nodded. “Was she hard to work with?”

“No more than any actress. She was as good as she could be when she put her mind to it.”

“In other words there were times when she didn’t?”

Frank sighed. “She could be very… volatile, moody, at times. All right, since you have probably been told this by everyone you’ve talked to, she was man-hungry. When she had one she was happy and easy to work with. When she was between men she could be a real bitch. That sounds bad, but it’s the truth.”

“Apparently she was between men last night.”

“She was. I don’t know if you talked to Dean, since he didn’t go out with the others to the club, but she seemed to be after him and he wasn’t in the least bit interested.”

“So he said. This had been going on for a while?”

Frank frowned before saying, “About two weeks I think. She’d broken up with one of the crew members she’d been going out with.” He snorted. “I think she was running out of men to try to get her hooks into, so she went after Dean.”

“He’s a good looking man. I’m surprised she waited so long.”

“He’s also fairly reclusive compared to most of the rest of them. He does his job, and very well I might add, but when the day’s over he leaves and goes home. Okay, I presume he goes home, I’ve never really asked. All I know is he doesn’t hang out with anyone but his sister and Jim, her boyfriend.”

“What about Mr Leads?” Kirby asked.

“I’ve never seen the two of them together.”

Kirby shook his head. “I meant what about Leads and Ms Westcott. Were they ever a couple?”

“No. For some reason she never seemed the least bit interested in him. They worked well together on stage, but off stage…” Frank shrugged.

“Some of the people said he seemed more than interested in her, at least from his reaction to her dancing with man at the club.”

“You couldn’t prove it by me. Sorry.” Frank looked between the two detectives. “If you don’t have any more questions for me I have to get back to work. We’re going to be here all night as it is, thanks to this and the fact that I have to get Angela’s understudy up to speed now.”

“Go ahead, and thank you for your help.”

Frank was already half way out the door as he replied, “You’re welcome.”

Friday, April 15, 2016

Release day for 'It Takes an Artist'

It Takes an Artist
Quint and Clay Art Crimes #2
What do you do when someone attempts to frame you for the murder of your roommate? That's the problem facing kinetic artist Trev Eldridge. Although Detective Quint Hawk determines Trev is innocent, it does nothing to assuage Trev's fears.
While Quint sets out to discover who's responsible for the murder, Trev is befriended by Dr Zack Kendall. As Zack helps Trev deal with what happened, the two men begin to bond. At the same time, artist Clay Richardson takes Trev under his wing, after learning Trev is a talented artist.
Evidence leads Quint to a theory about the murder and who is involved. With the help of Trev, Zack, Clay, and Officer Lou Hernandez, they come up with a plan to catch the villains.
With all that is happening, can the growing attraction between Trev and Zack survive before the criminals take them out of the picture...permanently?


Quint walked quietly into the bedroom, undressed, then went into the bathroom, closing the door so as not to wake Clay. He took a fast shower, brushed his teeth then turned out the light before returning to very carefully slide into bed next to Clay. He knew his lover had been up late, attending the opening of his latest show at the gallery. Quint would have been there with him if he hadn't been called in on a new case.

He'd barely closed his eyes when Quint felt Clay turn over and brush a kiss to his temple.

"How bad?" Clay asked.

"Bad." Quint rolled onto his side, resting his hand on Clay's chest. "Sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."

"What time is it?"

"After three. How was the opening?"
"Same as always. A lot of people telling me how great I am and how much they love my work," Clay grumbled in reply.

"Hopefully you didn't bite anyone's head off."

Clay chuckled. "I was tempted, but I'm getting better about that. Several people were interested in my Element painting of you. Of course, I told them it wasn't for sale. As a matter of fact, I brought it back home with me."

"Clay. Damn. It's just a painting. You have the real thing. If someone wants to buy it, let them."

"I suppose," Clay replied, sounding hurt.

"You do realize..." Quint yawned. "Since you're not selling it, we'll have to hang it in the living room, and I'm not sure I can stand looking at myself day after day."

"Or in here," Clay said, amusement tingeing his words now. "It will fuel my fantasies when you have to work late."

"Now that could make our sex life very interesting, if you act on them later."

Clay huffed. "It's already--"

"Very interesting. I agree." Quint unsuccessfully tried to stifle another yawn. "If I wasn't so tired..."

"I know." Clay stroked Quint's beard then tugged it, kissing the detective when he moved within reach. "Go to sleep. What time do you want me to get you up?"

"Depends how you mean that," Quint replied, returning the kiss.

"When do you need to be at work?"

Quint sighed. "Too soon." Pulling Clay into a tight embrace against his chest, Quint muttered, "Way too soon."
Trev Eldridge opened his eyes then looked around, trying to figure out where he was. Not at the apartment. Not at my folks'. Not... In the dim light he could make out a window along one pale beige wall and a closed door a few feet from the end of the bed. Whose bed? And why am I in it?
He got an answer seconds later when the door opened and a woman in a nurse's uniform came into the room.

"You're awake. How are we feeling this morning, Mr Eldridge?"

"Confused," Trev replied groggily. "Where am I? Okay, I guess since you're a nurse, this must be a hospital. Why am I here? What's wrong with me?"

Before the woman could reply, a man entered the room. He was tall, with dark hair, a trim beard, and a mustache. Coming over to the bed, he studied Trev while asking, obviously having overheard Trev's question, "You don't remember being brought here?"

Trev frowned. "No. The last thing I remember is..." His eyes widened. "There were two men. They...they broke through the door. They had guns and--" Trev tried to touch his shoulder. Something tugged and stung when he moved his hand. The nurse gripped his wrist, telling him he'd pull out the IVs. Focusing his attention on the man, Trev said, "They shot me?"

"Yes. You sustained a shoulder wound."

"Are you a doctor?"

"No. I'm Detective Quinton Hawk." He touched the badge pinned to his jacket pocket. "If you don't mind, I have to ask you some questions."

Trev attempted to shrug then realized that his shoulder was heavily bandaged. "I guess it's okay." Then it hit him. "John. Is he...?"

"I'm sorry. He's dead." Detective Hawk pulled up a chair and sat, looking hard at Trev. "The gun that killed him was on the floor between the two of you."

Trev tried to process what the detective had said, as a wave of sadness washed over him. "He's... They killed him? God damn it. Why?" He gulped, trying to will back tears, because he had to know. "Why would they leave the gun?"

"That's what I'd like to know, Mr Eldridge, especially since the only prints on it belonged to you and John Pierce."

"That's impossible! I don't own a gun and neither did John. He hated them."

The door to the room opened again before Quint could respond, and a man in a white jacket came over to the bed. "I doubt that you remember me," the man said. "I'm Doctor Kendall."

As the doctor stopped beside the bed, Detective Hawk asked Trev, "What was your relationship with Mr Pierce, Mr Eldridge?"

"We were roommates."

"That's it?"

"Yes, that's it. What else would it have been?" Then Trev understood the implication behind the question. "Damn. John was totally straight, if that's what you're trying to find out. Why the hell do people presume because two guys are rooming together that they automatically have to be gay?"

After a pause, during which the detective studied Trev, he said, "But you are."

"Yeah. So? John knew, and it didn't bother him. We've been friends since we were kids. When I moved out here, he offered to let me share the apartment until I found one of my own."

"That was how long ago?"

"Maybe three months."

"What do you do for a living, Mr Eldridge?"

"At the moment, I'm a waiter, if you can call that a living."

"Detective Hawk," the doctor broke in. "I'm going to have to ask you to wait outside while I examine Mr Eldridge."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Colors of Hate – 9

“You need to talk with me?” Dean asked. “I wasn’t at the club last night.”

“We’d still like your input about Ms Westcott if you don’t mind.”

“Sure.” Dean hesitated before taking a seat. “What do you want to know?”

“To begin with, your sister said Ms Westcott came on to you and you rejected her advances.”

“What’s that got to do with anything? It’s true, but I hardly think it’s relevant to her murder.”

Unconsciously Dean touched the bruise on his cheek, which didn’t escape Reid’s notice. “Just a guess, but did she hit you, or slap you, when you turned her down?”

Dean winced, dropping his hand quickly into his lap. “I suppose I should be truthful.”

“It would be a good idea, especially if she told anyone else about it.”

“Then yes, she did. She packs a punch.” He laughed ruefully. “I’m afraid I asked for it though. I told her I didn’t like her. I said that my having her come in to try on her costumes so often was because she couldn’t lay off the food and drink, not because I had a ‘thing’ for her.”

Reid snorted. “Oh that was tactful.”

“I know, but I was tired of her throwing herself at me. She definitely was not my type.”

Reid was tempted to ask what his type was but knew it wasn’t germane to the conversation or the investigation. So he switched topics. “Why weren’t you at the Red Moon last night? It seems as if almost everyone else in the company was.”

“Partly because I knew she would be there. But more because I had things to do. Job related things, since our first dress rehearsal was today. Or is today actually, once you finish with us.”

“Do you know if there was anyone here who might have been interested in her and been rejected?”

Dean chuckled. “I honestly doubt she’d turn down anyone who might have wanted to date her. As to who might have turned her down, other than me, I really have no idea. She was dating my sister’s boyfriend when we first joined the company, but he broke it off once he realized he was much more interested in Carrie.”

“How did Ms Westcott take that?”

“As far as I know she must have been okay with it. She certainly moved on quickly enough. There was a cute guy on the scenery crew that she went after. I think they went out for a while and then she was looking—again.”

“She doesn’t seem to have been too lucky with men,” Kirby put in.

“She was…pushy I guess. Controlling might be a better word, and clingy. That would get tiresome after a while, I’d think.”

“It does,” Reid agreed. “So, what else can you tell us about her?”

“Me? Nothing more than I have already. Other than having to design costumes for her for whatever show she was in, and doing fittings, I rarely if ever had any contact with her. I’m not big on the ‘let’s hit up a bar after work’ thing, which she was. Well as half the company is at times, to tell the truth.”

“All right. If you do think of anything else, please let us know. For now, you’re free to go.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Colors of Hate – 8

“Have a seat please, Ms Travers.” Carrie hesitated for a moment before doing as Reid asked. “I understand that you were at the club last night at the same time Ms Westcott was,” he said after introducing himself and Kirby.

“Yes. I’m sure Jim told you all about it.”

“He did, including about the small scene between you and her.”

Carrie smiled slightly. “It was hardly a scene. I let her know Jim was my boyfriend and she accepted it. With ill grace, I will admit.”

“From what he said, he and Ms Westcott were dating before he met you.”

“They were, but that’s past history and has been for, oh about two years now.”

“That’s when you joined the company?”

“Yes. My brother and I were late-comers. Almost everyone else has been with it since it was formed five years ago.”

Reid nodded. “Your brother? Is he an actor too?”

“Oh no. He’s the costume designer, although in a company this small he also makes some of them, along with his crew.”

“I see. Did Ms Westcott go after him the way she apparently has most of the other men in the company at one point or another?”

“She did, and he ignored it, just like several of the others have.”

“Including Mr Leads?”

Carrie leaned back in the chair. “Now that’s the funny thing. Ange never tried to get her claws into him that I’ve heard about. Sorry for the description but it’s the way I think of it.”

“From what Mr Eckert said, it seems Mr Leads might have been interested in her however.”

“Oh I’m sure he was, because sometimes it seemed as if he couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. And last night… Jim probably told you about her dancing with some man and Mal’s reaction. Once we got him away from the club he did seem to relax though, so who knows. Maybe it was just a bit too much to drink on his part.”

“So, as far as you know, she had no specific man in her life?”

“Not as far as I know. I mean come on, if she did, would she be going after every man who lived and breathed?”

Reid chuckled. “I suppose not. Is there anything else you can think of that we should know at this point?”

“No. Look, I wasn’t her biggest fan but she wasn’t a bad person. She didn’t deserve to die like that.”

“No one does,” Reid replied before he dismissed her.

“Her brother next?” Kirby asked.

“I think so. Since he’s not an actor we might be more able to trust that his reactions are real.”

Kirby frowned. “You think the others were lying?”

“Honestly, so far I’m not willing to make a judgment on that. Their stories all seem to agree, other than Mr Leads implying he wasn’t upset when he saw her dancing with that man. We need to get someone over to the Red Moon to question the people there. You go get Mr Travers while I set it up.” Reid took out his phone as Kirby left, finishing his call just as Kirby returned with Dean.