Monday, May 30, 2016

The Colors of Hate - 32



Part 2 - Red

The show went on as scheduled the night following the arrest of Mrs Nester for Angela Westcott’s murder. As anyone might have guessed, ticket sales jumped, human nature being what it is. When Dean heard he shook his head in disgust.

“It’s times like this I have to wonder about people,” he growled to his sister when she came into his office, late Sunday morning .

Carrie nodded in agreement. “Not the sort of publicity we would have wanted. It was bad enough when Ange’s death kicked up sales a bit.” She rested her hip on the corner of his desk. “Frank’s leaving, or so the rumor goes.”

“Not leaving, just stepping back. He’ll run the day to day business, but he’s turning the directing chores over to Vince.”

“Could be worse. He could have brought in someone new.” Leaning over, she patted his shoulder. “How are you doing?”

Dean shrugged. “All right I guess. I feel like everyone’s watching me now with a jaundiced eye. As if I’m going to catch them out in something bad they might have done and report them.”   

“Oh Dean, I’m sure they aren’t. Just give it time, things will calm down.”

He nodded. “I hope so. But at least for now, I have the designs for the next show to take my mind off things. Meaning I’d better get together with Vince to see what he has in mind.”

“I’ll leave you to it then.” Carrie stood, bent to kiss his cheek and murmur, “Love you, Dean,” then headed to the door.

“Love you too, Carrie,” he told her with a smile. After she was gone he picked up the preliminary sketches he’d done for Frank, wondering how much Vince would want them changed. "Hopefully not too much," he murmured as he walked from his office down to Vince’s

* * * *

It was mid-afternoon, and Dean was back in his office, when his cell chimed. He pulled it out, smiling when he saw the caller was Kirby, then answered.

“How’s the famous designer?” Kirby asked once they’d both said ‘Hello’.

“Designing,” Dean replied with a laugh.

“On a Sunday?”  

“Yep. With all that happened things are a bit chaotic, so some of us are here trying to pull it back together again.”

“I see.” Kirby paused. “Okay, I promised I’d let you know when we found out anything about Mr Jones.”

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Out today! 'Murder on Rainbow Lane'

Murder on Rainbow Lane

My name is Adam Moore, and I am not a happy camper at the moment. Someone is killing the residents on Rainbow Lane cul-de-sac. If that wasn't bad enough, they're trying to frame me for the murders.

My only hope of proving my innocence? Detective Steve Jarrett ... if I can convince him I'm not the man he's looking for. Although he may be the man I've been looking for all my life.

EXCERPT:
    I got off work at ten. The fireworks over the lake on the east side of the city were impressive. The reporter's story about them -- not so much so. Not really her fault. After all, there wasn't much she could do other than interview people watching while I filmed them.

    I was tired, so I decided to forego stopping at a bar for a couple of beers and headed home. As I pulled into the cul-de-sac, I saw two police cars, a CSI van, and an ambulance in front of Jake's house, which is on the turnaround circle at the end of the Lane. I parked my car and walked up to see what was going on. Half the residents of the Lane were milling around, on the outside of the crime tape the cops had put up. That included Brent. I corralled him, asking, "Trouble?"

    "Yeah. Jake's dead."

    "What the fuck! You're shitting me. What happened?"

    "From what Dave said, Jake came home with him and Luke after the party ended, around six. They had a few more beers, watched the fireworks on TV then Jake took off for home. About fifteen minutes later, Luke found Jake's phone beside the sofa. He went to take it back, but when he rang the bell, Jake didn't answer. He tried the door and it was unlocked. Figuring maybe Jake had gone inside then passed out, because he definitely was feeling no pain, Luke checked." Brent paused, taking a deep breath. "According to Luke, Jake was lying face down in the middle of the living room floor. His head was bashed in."

    Shocked, all I could say was, "A burglary?"

    "The cops haven't said. They showed up about ten minutes after Luke called 911, along with the ambulance. A few minutes ago the CSI people arrived."

    For a second, I considered calling the news desk at the station to let someone know what had happened. After all, I worked for them so technically it was part of my job to phone in any breaking news. I quickly reconsidered. My loyalties lay with the people who lived here. Beside which, the news outlets probably knew already and reporters would be showing up soon -- from the TV stations and the paper.

    "Have the cops begun questioning people?" I asked Brent.

    "Not yet. Well, probably Luke and Dave, but not the rest of us. Hell, what can we tell them?"

    "We're talking murder. They'll want to know if anyone saw someone around who didn't belong."

    By then, Tyler and Owen had joined us. Tyler asked, "Have the police said anything to either of you?"

    "I just got here," I told him. Brent just shook his head.

    "He must have surprised a burglar. Right?" Owen said shakily.

    "Of course," Brent assured him. "What else? Probably some punk looking for the main chance. He didn't see any lights on and decided break in and take what he could get his hands on. Jake surprised him and paid for it with his life." He turned to me. "You might want to check your place, since you were gone."

    "I think I'll leave that up to the cops," I replied. "The same goes for Chase's place, since he's working."

    A man, I presumed one of the detectives, since he was wearing a suit and tie, came out of Jake's house at that point. He paused on the stoop, then came over to the four of us.

    "Good evening, gentlemen. I'm Detective Warren Irvin. I have a few questions for you. First, who are you and do you live here?"

    We told him we did, and he began taking our names and addresses. As he did, I realized I recognized him. Undoubtedly from some story I'd filmed when he was working another murder. He was older, in his fifties I estimated, with short graying hair, dark eyebrows, and a five o'clock shadow.

    When he got to me, he apparently recognized me as well, because he frowned momentarily before saying, "You work for KQBD."

    "Yes. I'm one of their cameramen. Was it a burglary? I'm only asking because I live here. Not as part of my job."

    "That has yet to be determined," he replied, adding my name and address to his list. "My first, obvious question is, did any of you see anyone hanging around in the last hour or so who didn't belong here? I understand there was group barbecue earlier today. Did someone try to join in who doesn't live here? Or watch from across the stream? Someone who seemed overly interested on what was going on?"

    "Not that I saw," Tyler replied. "But then I wasn't really looking. Beside which, the barbecue ended hours ago. When it broke up, we all went home.”

The Colors of Hate - 31



Mrs. Nester thanked Dean, taking a sip of her drink. “I should slow down I guess,” she told him wryly. “One of us has to be sober enough to drive home.”

“That’s what cabs are for.”

“I suppose. I have a question for you, and you don’t have to answer it. Well, probably you can’t answer but I’ll ask anyway. Do you think the police have any idea who killed Angela?”

“You’re right, I can’t answer, because I don’t know. I just wish they’d hurry up and figure it out. I hate feeling like any second they’re going to pounce on one of us with handcuffs in hand.”

“Well at least I know they can’t suspect Frank. He was dead to the world. I told the one policeman that. He came home, took his pills and went right to bed.”

“And slept through the night?”

She nodded, taking another drink. “Between the pills and what he’d had to drink nothing could have awakened him.”

“So he went to a bar before he came home?”

Her mouth tightened. “So he said.”

“You don’t sound like you believed him,” Dean commented softly.

“I didn’t. But I guess I was wrong because I found out later that…” She drew in a deep breath. “It doesn’t matter now.”

Dean took her hand when she started to reach for her glass again. “What doesn’t matter, Beth?”

“That bitch was at the club, and everyone saw her there.”

“Angela?”

“Yes,” she hissed out angrily. “The bitch he was screwing every chance he got. Him, and any other man she could get her hands on. She deserved to die. Playing with all the men there, and then going off with that man like the whore she was. But she found out she picked the wrong one. He didn’t really want her; he just wanted to talk to her in private.”

“Beth,” Dean said, suddenly understanding, “How did you know that?”

“I… I…”

“You were there, weren’t you?” he asked quietly. “You followed her. Why? To find out if Frank had been with her?”

Tears began streaming down her face. “I just wanted to tell her to leave him alone. He’s my husband. She had no right. No right at all. But she laughed at me.”

“Where?”

“In the park, where they found her. That’s where that man took her to talk. They were arguing and he hit her and left her there. So I…went over to…to help her. To talk to her. And she laughed at me.”

“So you killed her.”

“I didn’t mean to.” She buried her face in her hands. “I didn’t mean to. Someone… There was a bat there that someone had left behind. When she laughed I picked it up and hit her to stop her.”

Dean put his arm around her. “Beth, I’m so sorry.”

She lifted her head to look at him. “I didn’t mean to…”

“I know. But Beth, you have to tell the police.”

Her voice was weak and almost childlike as she asked. “Why?”

“I think you know why.”

She nodded slowly, still looking at him. “Will you… Could you go with me? Please?”

Dean hesitated, glancing at Frank. He realized the man was so absorbed in Tayla, and now two more women who were also with him, that he couldn't have cared less about his wife and the fact she was even in the room. “Yes, of course.” Dean stood, offering his hand.

She took it hesitantly and got up. Slowly they made their way to the door. Dean took one more look at Frank—a disgusted, angry look this time—before he and Mrs. Nester left.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Colors of Hate - 30



“We did it!” Carrie threw her arms around Dean to hug him hard. “They loved it!”

“Well of course they did. Look who was playing Morgan la Fey.” He hugged her back before turning her over to Jim, who was watching in amusement.

The opening night party was in full swing, albeit much more subdued than most such festivities were wont to be. The pall of Angela’s death, and how she died, hung over the room despite the music and the fact that the drinks and food were free.

Feeling a bit out of his element, Dean found a secluded corner where he could watch without most of the others even realizing he was there. It was a private room in one of the better clubs in the city, set up buffet style with a bar at one end. The cast and crew mingled with the patrons of the theater. From what Dean could see of him, Frank seemed to be right in his element, talking to one or another of the backers, accepting congratulations as if they were his due, then turning his attention to Tayla when she approached him.

Mrs Nester also watched from her spot at a table at one side of the room. She looked lonely, and alone, and not happy about either. Thinking this was the perfect time, Dean walked over to sit down beside her.

She smiled, saying, “So you did decide to come. Frank thought perhaps you wouldn’t.”

“Well it’s not really my thing, but…” Dean smiled back, shrugging. “He looks like he’s having a great time though.”

“He always does. He loves this kind of gathering. It’s the one time he can let down his guard and be a person, not the owner and director.” She frowned slightly and Dean saw she was staring at her husband. Frank seemed to be listening with apparent amusement to something Tayla was telling him, his arm around her shoulders as he leaned in to hear her over the music and voices around them.

“For someone who stepped in just a few days before we opened, Tayla did an excellent job playing Guinevere,” Dean commented. “Maybe even better than Angela would have.”

“Much better, I agree. The only reason she didn’t get the part in the first place was…” Mrs. Nester bit her lip then picked up her glass, half emptying it with one swallow. “Your sister did a wonderful job as well. Actually everyone did when it comes down to it.”

“I’ll have to tell Carrie you said that.” Dean leaned back, sipping his wine while he watched the goings-on. He noticed Frank had now moved over to the bar with Tayla beside him. And he knew, from the distraught look which flashed momentarily across her face, that Mrs Nester was well aware of the fact, too. “He’s just enjoying himself,” he told her quietly, so no one would overhear.

She turned to glare at him then smiled tightly. “I know. At least tonight he won’t have to take his pills to get to sleep.”

Dean nodded. “Sometimes after a long day’s work, especially right at the end before opening, we could all use some of those I think. It’s probably why a lot of the guys head to a bar after rehearsals are over, to unwind so they can sleep.”

“Frank does that too, now and then. Or so he says.” As if realizing she’d said more than she should have, she took gulp of her drink, emptying the glass. With a slight smile she held it out to Dean. “Would you be a dear and get me another?”

“Of course.” He took it, asked what she was drinking, and then went to get her a refill. As he came back to the table he saw her scowling. Once again she was watching as her husband talked to Tayla. He’s being a real son of a bitch. Either that or he’s had way too much to drink already. If he’s not careful, Beth’s going to make a scene. He sat down, handing Mrs. Nester her drink.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Colors of Hate - 29



Reid hid a smile as he watched both men react as if they’d been burned, Kirby quickly pulling his hand back while Dean jumped in surprise. Dean looked up at Kirby for a second and then away, embarrassed it seemed—if Reid were to make a guess.

With a shake of his head, Reid said, “You’d think you’d never been touched before, Dean. Haven’t you ever played sports and gotten a slap on the back, or your ass swatted?”

“Well, actually, no. I was a ninety-pound weakling in high school, much to my father’s disgust. After all ‘real’ men go out for all the teams”

Kirby snorted softly. “You’re far from that now.”

“A real man?” Dean said indignantly.

“A ninety-pound weakling.” Kirby stared at him intently, taking in the slender but well-built body in front of him. “You’re no, what’s his name, something Atlas, but I bet you can handle yourself when necessary.”

Dean reddened under his scrutiny. “Maybe, if it came down to it, but…”

“It never has, I take it.” Kirby smiled. “That’s a good thing in my book.”

Reid was majorly tempted to say ‘Mating dance later, business now.’ but resisted. Instead, he asked Dean when he thought he’d have time to go see Mrs Nester.

“Good question.” Dean ran hand through his hair then he snapped his fingers. “We open tomorrow night, well tonight I guess given how late it is. She’ll be there of course and at the party afterwards. And before you think we’re a callous bunch, it’s just going to be a small one. Frank said it would be as much a farewell to Ange as a celebration of opening night. Like a wake I suppose, but without the funeral.”

“Do you think you can corner her and get her talking?”

“I can try. That’s all I can promise.”

“That’s good enough for us,” Kirby said. “For right now, however, I think we should call it a night. As you pointed out, Dean, it is late.”

“Yeah. And I have to be at the theater by mid-morning to take care of some things.” Dean stood, saying as he did, “I’ll call you after I’ve talked to Beth, umm Mrs Nester.”

Kirby chuckled. “We knew who you meant.”

“Oh, yeah, right. Sorry.”

“Don’t be. Now get. Go home and sleep. We’ll see you tomorrow sometime I’m sure.”

“I hope so,” Dean replied, and then reddened again as he hurried to the door.

“Oh you will,” Kirby said softly as the door shut behind Dean. “Trust me on that one.”

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Colors of Hate - 28



“The last time Ange was seen by anyone was around midnight,” Kirby said. “Supposedly by then, Mr Nester was indeed at home and sleeping, presumably with his wife by his side. But what if he did go to the club before going home and saw how Ms Westcott was acting?”

Dean shook his head. “So what if he did. That’s how she always was. Everyone, including him, knew it.”

“Knowing it and liking it are two very different things. Look at how Mr Leads reacted when he saw her dancing with Jones.”

“So you’re saying that, for some reason, Frank was jealous and decided to slip away from home and kill her?” Dean felt like laughing. “That’s insane.”

“Not at all insane, if he and Ms Westcott were having a clandestine affair. All her flirting around would be the best thing possible for her to do to cover the fact.”

“Someone would have known,” Dean protested.

“Why? We’re dealing with theater people here. By all accounts she was an excellent actress. He was an actor himself before he turned to directing, according to his bio in the program for the show. It’s not as if they were office workers sneaking out for a ‘nooner’ so to speak.”

“First Jones, now Frank. How are you going to find proof it was one or the other, or even someone else?”

“It’s what we do, Dean,” Reid replied. “We figure out all the possibilities and go from there. Jones is an obvious suspect, since he was the last one seen with her. Mr Nester slipped up when he told us you weren’t at the club that night.”

“Only if someone didn’t mention it to him later.”

“You said yourself, Dean, it was highly unlikely. I think we need to dig deeper into Mr Nester and his alibi.”

“Get John to talk to Mrs. Nester again,” Kirby suggested. “He’s already seen her once; she might feel more comfortable with him. He can say he’s just doing follow up.”  

“I know her, she’s a nice woman,” Dean put in. “Why not let me talk to her instead?”

“Because technically…”

“I’m still a suspect, I know. But that in itself might build a rapport between the two of us and get her to open up. Well, if there’s anything to open up about.”

Kirby looked at Reid, as he obviously gave Dean’s statement the consideration it merited. Reid nodded. “All right. But if you screw things up, we’re up shit creek.”

“I won’t, I promise.”

“Okay. Now,” Reid turned his attention back to Kirby, “as for Jones. We’re already checking flights between here and Colorado Springs to see which ones he took coming and going.”

“So you know he’s left town,” Dean said, feeling relieved.

“Not yet. As I said, we’re checking. We should know for certain fairly soon, one way or the other.” 

“Don’t worry, the second we know we’ll let you know,” Kirby said, gripping Dean’s shoulder without thinking about it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Colors of Hate - 27



“So that idea is off the boards,” Dean said.

Reid nodded. “A phone call, yes, but it doesn’t preclude someone going to her place to wait for her to come home.”

“I suppose.” Dean frowned. “Carrie, Jim, Mal, anyone of them.”

“And Ms Mars,” Kirby added.

“You’re kidding. Why her?”

“She stood to gain a lot with Ms Westcott’s death. She did end up taking her place in the play.”

Dean smiled slightly. “Carrie and I actually thought of that. But she wouldn’t have had to kill her. If she was that intent on taking over, all she’d have had to do was stage an accident of some sort. A broken bone or three would have been just as effective.”

Kirby tapped his fingers together, nodding slowly. “Very true. So…she sets out to do just that and it goes awry. Same scenario, different player. She didn’t go to the club with the others from what I understand.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Dean said. “I’m sure I’m not the only one who wasn’t there, but that’s as far as it goes.”

“True. She didn’t, Mr Nester didn’t, as well as a few others.” Kirby paused then asked Dean, “Was there any reason you might have mentioned, the next morning, that you didn’t go along with the others?”

Dean laughed. “Who had the time to talk about the ‘party’ or whatever it was. We were getting ready for a major rehearsal and I was more than busy with what I had to do.”

Without replying, Kirby opened the case folder which he’d brought with him. He scanned several pages before coming to the one he wanted. “Is Mr Nester someone who, for lack of a better word, ‘gossips’ with the actors or crew members?”

“Frank?” Dean chuckled. “No. He's all business all the time. Why?”

“When we interviewed him the first time he said, and I quote, ‘I don’t know if you talked to Dean, since he didn’t go out with the others to the club.’ How would he know that unless he’d been there too?”

“Hold on, Kirby,” Reid said. “He’s got an alibi, from his wife. He went straight home from the theater.”

Kirby searched through the papers again. “Which was, according to his wife, around nine p.m. He told her he was tired and headed to bed not much later.”

“He must have had things to finish up after most of the rest of the people left. Was his name on the list from the guard?” Reid asked.

Kirby checked then shook his head. “Just Dean, Mr Olsen and Olsen’s assistant.”

“When did the guard leave?”

“Seven fifty, according to him.”   

“Then Mr Nester has an hour to account for between then and when his wife says he got home. He could have gone to the club.”

“But people would have seen him,” Dean protested.

“If he wanted to be seen. You’ve been to clubs, Dean. You know it’s easy enough to watch what’s going on, without anyone knowing you’re there, if it’s what you want to do.”

“Okay. I guess. But he was home by nine and Ange was still alive then.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Colors of Hate - 26



“Sorry I’m late,” Dean said when Kirby opened the door to let him into the apartment.

“It’s okay. You did say you might be. It gave Reid and me a chance to watch a movie I just picked up. Are you hungry?”

“Starving.” Dean looked past Kirby to see Reid sitting on the sofa in the small living room and nodded to him. “But you don’t have to make anything. I’ll survive until I leave.”

“It’s in the fridge. Have a seat and I’ll go nuke it.”

Trailing after him instead of sitting, Dean leaned against the counter to watch while Kirby took the food out, put it on a plate then stuck it in the microwave. “What if I hated Italian?” Dean asked, chuckling.

“Who in hell would hate Italian?” Kirby replied in mock horror. “Besides, if you did it would just mean I’d have tomorrow night’s supper already on hand.”

“Good point.” Dean’s eyes flicked to the microwave then back to Kirby. “Is that how you do all your meals? Take-out I mean.”

Kirby shrugged. “I keep odd hours a lot of the time, just like you do, so yeah, mostly. Don’t you? Do take-out that is.”

“Sometimes, unless… I do know how to cook, and I like to.”

Grabbing the chance, hoping it wouldn’t send Dean running to the living room, or further, Kirby said, “Maybe sometime you can show me.”

Dean’s eyes widened. A small smile lit his face. “Maybe, sometime, I could.”

“When all this is over of course.”

“Of course.”

The insistent ding of the microwave ended the conversation, but not the feeling Kirby had that perhaps Reid had been right.

* * * *

Reid waited until after Dean had finished eating before returning to the aborted conversation from that afternoon.

“As much as all of us might like to focus on Mr Jones as the killer, there are other suspects to consider. Dean, you probably won’t like this but your sister is one of them.”

Dean started to bristle before he took time to think about it. “All right, I suppose I can see why, from your point of view. She told me she and Ange had words at the club—because of Jim. But come on, do you really think a brief argument would set her off to the point she’d track Ange down and kill her? And,” he looked at the two detectives, “she would have had to track her down since Ange left with Jones.”

“Did she know where Ms Westcott lived?” Reid asked.

“Of course. But she wasn’t killed there, was she?”

Kirby shook his head. “No she wasn’t. Her condo was a mess, but one she created. She was not the neatest person ever to come down the pike.”

“Then Ange never went home, so how could Carrie have found her? Or Jim as far as that goes, since he was with Carrie until they separated after supper.”

“All it would have taken was a phone call asking Ms Westcott to meet her somewhere else,” Reid pointed out.

“True. But don’t you all track any calls she’d have gotten around that time?”

Kirby smiled at him. “Good thinking and we do, and we did. She didn’t get any calls after she’d left the club. Not even any voicemails.”

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Colors of Hate - 25



Given the fact Dean wouldn’t show up until well after suppertime, Kirby and Reid decided to stop on the way to the apartment to pick up something to eat. “Enough for the three of us,” Kirby had stated. “We can nuke his when he arrives, if he’s hungry.”

Once they were at Kirby’s apartment, with their meals in front of them and Kirby’s safely stashed in the refrigerator, Reid said, pretty much out of the blue, “You like him.”

“Dean? Sure. Don’t you?”

“Yes, but that’s not what I meant and you know it.”

Kirby took a bite of his chicken before answering. “I’m… attracted to him.”

“Any idea if he feels the same?”

“Not a clue. After only a couple of days, most of which have been spent trying to determine if he might have killed Ms Westcott… Well if you were him, would you be feeling anything other than defensive around me?”

“From what I’ve seen he doesn’t act defensive. He did open up to you about something he’s probably never told anyone else he knows. And it was before he saw Jones’s picture in the paper.”

“That’s because I called him on the fact he’s gay and closeted, and pushed him to make him tell me why.”

Reid thought about it while twirling some spaghetti around his fork. “No. He could have made up some other excuse. He told you because he trusted you.”

“I suppose. But that’s no reason to think he might like me on some personal level, and you know it.”

“What I know is he watches you. This afternoon he couldn’t keep his eyes off you. When you told him he should leave he was hurt, and I think it’s because it was you who said it. If I had, he’d have just accepted it as a given.”

“You’re reading things into things, Reid.”

Reid started to reply, realized he had a huge ball of spaghetti rolled on his fork by then and shook his head in dismay. After starting over, and then eating the smaller amount, he finally said, “Just don’t back off. You can’t do anything until the case is closed but afterward…”

“Afterward what? Even if, and you know it’s a big ‘if’, he finds me interesting, he sure as hell isn’t going to let anything develop. Not when he’s so afraid of his father and what he would do to him.”

Reid smiled. “You might be surprised. When you care for someone, things look different. It might do you both a lot of good to own up to your feelings and go ‘public’, so to speak.”

“You…” Kirby waved his fork at Reid, “are definitely putting the horse before the cart.”

“I think that’s ‘cart before the horse’, and maybe I am. Nonetheless, don’t discount what I said.”

“We’ll see.”

Silence reigned for a while as the two men finished their supper. But Kirby had a pensive look on his face which led Reid to believe his friend might just be considering the idea. Reid hoped so. In his estimation Kirby needed to find someone he could truly care for.

Being a true romantic, although he’d have denied it if asked, Reid believed that everyone should have someone to love, and be loved in return. Perhaps, for Kirby, Dean would be the one, if they both were willing to give it a chance.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Colors of Hate - 24



Dean couldn’t help the pang of hurt he felt, even though he couldn’t deny the validity of Kirby’s words. His voice was bitter as he told them, “Feel free to use the office. I have to get back to rehearsals.” He walked quickly from the room, resisting the temptation slam the door like a petulant child.

As he strode down the hall to the auditorium his thoughts were in a whirl. He couldn’t decide if he was upset because of what Kirby had said, or because it was Kirby who had said it. Which is ridiculous. Why would it matter which one thought I shouldn’t be there But he knew why and it surprised the hell out of him. Somehow, in the brief time he’d known him, he’d come to think of Kirby as a friend—not just a cop who was trying to solve Ange’s murder. He’d opened up to him, which was something he never did. Thanks, Dad. Thanks for making me look at everyone as a potential enemy.

He pulled open the door to the auditorium angrily.

“Damn it. Hold on will you.”

Dean spun around to see Kirby standing there shaking his head, and growled out, “Why? I have a job to do and so do you. Go do it and leave me be.”

“Dean, come on, you know I was right. This is not the place for us to talk about it. If you hadn’t gotten on your high horse, if you’d have let me finish, I’d have suggested we go some place else. When you’re free that is.”

“Oh.” Dean looked down, unable to meet his eyes now because he felt like a fool.

“I was thinking, and Reid agrees, that my apartment would work.”

“Rather than a…a coffee shop…or something?”

“Well if that would make you feel more comfortable.”

“I… No. Your place is fine with me. But I don’t know when I’ll be finished here.”

Kirby nodded. “We have to go back to the station house anyway. So"—he checked the time—“do you think you’ll be out of here by say eight or nine?”

“Probably.”

“Okay. So we’ll plan on eight and if it’s going to be a lot later call me. You have my number.”

“I will.” Dean started to open the door again then realized he didn’t know where Kirby lived. He turned and started to say, “Where do you…” only to find Kirby handing him a card on which he’d written his address.

They both laughed, Kirby saying, “I’m not really a mind reader.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Dean replied, pocketing the card. “I’ll see you later then.”

“Counting on it.”

Dean wasn’t certain, but he thought there was something in the tone of Kirby’s voice and his smile which were a bit more personal than business. He smiled back and finally stepped into the auditorium. I’m…reading things in where I shouldn’t.

He really hoped he wasn’t.

Friday, May 13, 2016

It's release day for 'It Takes a Forger'

It Takes a Forger
Quint and Clay Art Crimes - Book #3

Officer Lou Hernandez is surprised when he's asked to help Gideon Monahan catch an art forger. He's not too happy, though, when he meets the man he'll be working with. Lou thinks Rory Kinley is a supercilious pain in the ass. Rory, on the other hand, sees no reason why Lou has been brought into this. After all, he's just a cop, albeit one who is good at going undercover.

The art forger they're after--Nate Hanks--cons collectors, saying he has an undiscovered 
painting by a famous artist. He's killed one of his marks already to keep from being caught.

Lou and Rory will have to set aside their differences as they set up a sting to stop Hanks. When they do, they discover they may not be as incompatible as they thought. The question becomes, will their growing feelings survive what's to come--or be destroyed in the process?

Excerpt:

"I'll have another, Jack," Lou told the bartender at his favorite local watering hole, tapping his empty beer bottle.

"You got it," Jack replied, adding, "I thought two was your limit."

"Usually, but tonight I'm breaking my rule."

"I'll pay for it," a man said, taking the empty stool beside Lou, "and one for me as well."
Lou turned to see who was offering to buy his drink.

The man, who had dark blond hair and looked in his mid-forties, smiled. "We haven't officially met, Mr Hernandez, but I was at the trials for both of the men involved in the death of John Pierce. My name is Gideon Monahan."

Lou cocked his head. "That rings a bell. I think Quint Hawk mentioned you at one point. You have something to do with recovering stolen art."

"I do...privately. I'm not connected with the FBI or any other law enforcement agency." Gideon took a drink when the bartender set it down in front of him.

"So you tracked me down to congratulate me on helping to put them behind bars?"

"Yes. I don't like it when one of my operatives is murdered. However, that's not the reason I'm here. I'm impressed by the job you did to trap them. You seem to be good at undercover work, the same way John was."

Lou shrugged. "I have my moments."

"I hope they're often, because I have a proposition for you."

"You're propositioning me?" Lou said, straight-faced. "Does that mean I'm going to get lucky tonight?"

"I don't swing that way," Gideon huffed in reply. Then he chuckled. "I know... Well, I hope you weren't serious."

"Nope." Not sure I like his reaction, but...might as well hear him out. "So, back to what you said. I'm good at what I do. I'd better be. I am a cop."

"An excellent one, from what I've heard. I could use a man like you."

"Sorry. Not interested. I'm a police officer for a reason. I like my job. With luck, I'll make detective soon."

"So Lieutenant Harber told me when I talked with him this afternoon."

"About me?" Lou raised one dark eyebrow in question.

Gideon nodded, turning to put his back to a man who had just sat down on the stool next to him. "Why don't we find a table where we can talk without being overheard?" he suggested quietly.

With a shrug, Lou picked up his fresh beer, following Gideon to a table in the back corner of the bar. When they were seated, he said, "I've already told you I'm not interested in leaving my present job."

"That wouldn't be a problem, as far as I'm concerned. As I said, I talked with your lieutenant. He's willing to loan you out to me--"

"Just a damned second," Lou said tightly. "I'm not a...a thing to be passed around at your--or the lieutenant's--whim."

Gideon nodded in agreement. "I phrased that wrong. Let me preface this by telling you that one of the men you helped bring to justice was a small fry compared to the guy I'm after now."

Lou tried not to show any interest in what Gideon was saying, only asking, "How so?"

"What do you know about art forgery?"


Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Colors of Hate - 23



Try this,” Kirby said. “The night of her death was the first time he approached her. He may have been watching the theater and followed some of the people to the club, thinking he could interrogate the actors about Dean. He picks Ms Westcott because it’s obvious from watching her she’s man-hungry. He strikes up an acquaintance, and maybe suggests they go somewhere, his motel, on to another club, whatever.”

“So he can quiz her, without her letting anyone else know what he’s doing, just in case.” Dean nodded. “She’d have gone with him, well obviously she did. It still begs the question, why kill her?”

“Just a guess, he found out what he wanted to know and told her to get lost. She’d already been rejected by you, and apparently by Mr Eckert, and maybe some others as well. She’s gets upset, starts to cause a scene, he does what it takes to shut her up then decides to make it look like someone attacked her.”

“Beats her some more and leaves her dead body in the park.” Reid nodded. “As a probable scenario it works.”

“But there’s no way to prove it,” Dean pointed out. “I’m sure by now he’s back with my father, telling him everything he learned from Ange.”

Kirby nodded. “Which potentially puts you in danger, if that’s the case.”

“Your father would really send someone to harm you?” Reid asked in disbelief.

 “My father’s totally insane when it comes to gays. We’re the scum of the earth, the reason this country is falling apart. According to him, our agenda is to recruit or kidnap every boy under the age of sixteen, sodomize them and then ‘turn them gay’.” When Reid looked at him in shock Dean said, “I kid you not. Growing up, he kept a tight rein on me so some gay pedophile wouldn’t get his hands on me. He’s that crazy, Reid, and so are his followers. Hell, didn’t you know gays were partly responsible for 9/11? Well, to my father’s way of thinking at least.”

“And this is a man who, at one point in time, had the ear of some of the more powerful politicians in Washington. Un-fucking-believable.” Anger filled Kirby’s face and voice.

Dean nodded. “That would be my father, bless his black heart.” 

“Not in this lifetime,” Kirby muttered. “But this still begs the question of where we stand on Ms Westcott’s murder. Theories are all well and good, but proving them is another thing.”

“Before you go any further, should I even be here now if you’re going to discuss the case?” Dean asked them.

Reid shook his head. “Technically, no. But you are, and if Kirby doesn’t object I think you might as well stick around.”

“I’m not certain he should,” Kirby said, causing the others to look at him in question. “Whether we believe he is or not, as far as the higher-ups are concerned they’d still see him as a suspect. So sitting here talking about the case in front of him, when anyone could come in,” he thumbed towards the office door, “could cause more problems than we’d want to deal with.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Out today! 'Perfect Strangers'

Perfect Strangers
 
Raphael Koenig is an assassin working for a covert outfit. He also uses alcohol to fend off terrifying nightmares. After completing one too many kills and dealing with one too many nightmares, he’s close to burning out. So, he takes a break—a two-week vacation in New Orleans.

Alden Durant lives and works in New Orleans. One afternoon he happens to see a sad, lonely looking man—Raphael. When they run into each other again, Alden offers to show him the city and they strike up a tentative friendship that leads to a casual sexual relationship that they are certain will end when Raphael’s vacation is over.

Raphael is called back early for another job, and both men believe they will never meet again. Then, fate steps in when Raphael is sent to New Orleans to take out a hired killer. He and Alden reconnect, but will they be able to handle the revelations that ensue? Or will those revelations drive them apart this time—permanently?
Reader Advisory: This book contains some scenes of graphic violence and scenes of murder.

Excerpt:
“Touch that and you’ll regret it,” Raphael told the bartender, his tone menacing.

“It’s closing time, man. Finish it now, or not. I don’t give a damn, but I’m taking the glass.” He reached for it again.

Raphael seized the bartender’s wrist—tightly enough the man winced. “I told you. Leave it. Go find someone else to bother.”

“Five minutes,” the bartender muttered when Raphael released his hold.

“Then give me a refill.” He tossed back the dregs of the drink.

“Are you shitting me?”

“What do you think?” Raphael’s gaze locked on the bartender’s face as he laid down the price of the drink.

The bartender grabbed a bottle of the whiskey Raphael was drinking from the shelf, poured three fingers’ worth into the glass then moved away. With a cold smile, Raphael lifted the glass to his lips, emptied it then slammed the glass down on the bar. “Now, you can have it,” he called out. Snagging his leather jacket off the back of the stool, he walked lazily to the exit, as if the five drinks he’d had since he’d arrived in the joint hadn’t affected him in the least.

And they hadn’t, other than to relax him and help him forget the scene he’d witnessed at another bar. A man there, older and very drunk, was being verbally—and loudly—abusive to the woman sitting beside him at a table in the back. She’d cowered away, as if afraid the next thing he’d do was hit her. Raphael would have stepped in if the bartender hadn’t. The last he saw before he’d left was the drunken man being escorted out of the back door—without the woman.

Raphael didn’t have to check the time to know it was late. After all, he’d come close to being kicked out of the bar at the two a.m. closing time, after his little set-to with the bartender. Bet he didn’t expect me to give him any guff. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let some punk bruiser push me around. That hasn’t happened since… He shelved that thought where it belonged—in the deep recesses of his mind—as he walked to where he’d parked his bike.

When he got to the lot, he chuckled low. The kid who manned the booth was standing by the bike, a longing look on his face.

“Like it?” Raphael asked, coming up behind him.

The kid nodded. “Ninety-nine Vulcan Drifter. Right?”

“Yep. Bought it used from an idiot who didn’t know what he had. No way in hell am I getting rid of it until it dies under me.”

The kid stroked the handlebars. “Don’t blame you.” He pulled his hand back, murmuring, “Sorry.”

Raphael almost smiled as he climbed on the bike. “I don’t think you did any damage. How much do I owe you?”

“Huh? Oh.” He looked at the ticket Raphael handed him. “Ten even.”

Raphael gave him fifteen, telling him to keep the change, started the bike and drove out of the lot, the kid’s surprised “thanks” drifting away behind him.

My good deed for the day. Raphael laughed softly.

Less than ten minutes later, he was parking in the lot behind his apartment. He locked the bike, went into the building and, rather than using the elevator, took the stairs two at a time to the third floor.
As soon as he was in his apartment, he tossed his jacket on the sofa, walked into the master bedroom and stripped down to his briefs. Going back to the living room, he fixed a drink at the bar along one wall then went out to the balcony. From where he stood, he could see the lights of the city spread out before him. If it was daytime, he could have seen the mountains in the distance.

“I should get to bed,” he said under his breath. He was reticent to do so, even though he had to be up in less than five hours if he was going to be at the construction site on time. He was afraid the abusive man he’d seen at the bar would bring on dreams he didn’t want—or need.

He sipped his drink then, resolutely, drank the rest of it in one gulp. After going back inside, he went into the kitchen and set the glass in sink. He took a fast shower then crawled into bed. Soon all the alcohol he’d consumed, and his exhaustion, did what he hoped and he fell into a dreamless sleep.
 

The Colors of Hate - 22



When they got to Dean's office, he started pacing, Kirby doing the same in the opposite direction. Reid took a seat and watched. Any other time he might have found it amusing, but not now. Not with so much at stake. “What’s his name Mr Travers?”

“I’d like to say it’s something stupid and indicative of what he is, like Bubba Redneck, but its not. It’s Richard Jones.”

“Is he from around here?”

“No. He lives in the same city my father does. Colorado Springs to be exact.”

“Figures,” Kirby muttered.

“Why would he be here?” Reid asked.

Dean stopped pacing before answering. “Looking for me, to bring me back into the fold, as my father would put it.”

“Damn, you’re an adult, though I guess to people like them that probably doesn’t matter.” Kirby shook his head then frowned at Dean. “They don’t know where to find you?”

“Oh my father knows. But since I don’t answer his letters, or the phone when he calls, I suppose he decided to take the direct route. He getting old, well older, and wants me to start taking over the reins of his…his cult is what I call it.”

“That’s exactly what it is!” Kirby said forcefully.

“Mr Travers…” Reid started to say.

“Please, call me Dean.”

“Dean, then. Kirby told me what the two of you talked about last night, some of it anyway. Is there any way your father could have found out that you’re gay?”

“I don’t see how, but then…” Dean sighed. “I can’t state categorically that it would be impossible.”

“Okay, picture this scenario," Reid said. "He has reason to believe you might be. That would make him furious. But he doesn’t know for certain, so he sends Jones out here to spy on you. The man makes friends with Ms Westcott. Maybe only on the night she was killed, maybe earlier.”

“I’d guess earlier,” Kirby said. “That’s why she kept throwing herself at you, Dean. Testing to see if you’d respond.”

Reid nodded. “That makes sense. Did you tell her you wouldn’t be going to the club with the rest of the group, Dean?”

Dean thought back to the last time he’d seen her, trying to remember, then shook his head. “Honestly, I was so pissed I probably did, but it’s anyone’s guess.”

“Okay. Either way, she goes to the club, Jones shows up, and if we’re right, although of course we might not be, she tells him what went down between the two of you. To him that would be proof enough, as crazy as those people are.”

“But why kill her?”

“Now that’s a good question for which I haven’t figured out an answer,” Reid admitted.