Exclusive Excerpt: Drama Faerie, the 9th Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino

Excerpt:

Just like Demetrius rejecting Helena. Though I admit I prefer Shakespeare’s similes.

“Ray, please, give me another chance. I know I’m not hot like you, but I can be loyal.”

“How many times do I have to say it? You and I will never happen, dude.” He pushed Enoch away and headed offstage.

Having witnessed the encounter from upstage, Braedon Walsh hurried to his best friend’s side. The hunky little blond threw his Hermia wig on the stage floor and placed a comforting arm around Enoch. “Are you all right?”

Enoch laughed bitterly. “Obviously not, according to Ray.”

“Don’t listen to him.”

“Why not? Ray holds the opinion of the majority.” Tears streamed down Enoch’s face. “Why did I think it could be any different?”

“Enoch, don’t let Ray, or anyone, measure your self-worth.”

“Easy for you to say. Everyone loves your self-worth, remember?”

“Enoch, why can’t you see all you have going for you?”

Ray appeared at Braedon’s other side. “Braedon, what are you doing after rehearsal?”

“Getting a quick bite to eat and then going over my scenes.”

“Let’s do it together.”

Braedon waffled. “I don’t think—”

“I’m really confused about this last scene. Won’t you help me, man?”

Braedon looked up at Ray. “Well, I guess I can—”

Enoch’s face turned the color of Braedon’s peach dress. “Are you two kidding me right now? You’re going to hook up together—with me standing right here watching?”

Ray groaned. “Nobody asked you to stand here and watch.”

“Enoch, I want our show to be a success. I think I can help Ray with—”

Ray grabbed Braedon’s arm. “Come on, let’s go.”

Enoch pushed Braedon away. “Go ahead, Braedon. No more pity party for me. I release you from your duty as my best friend.” He choked out, “And I hope you two are happy together.” Enoch stormed offstage.

“Enoch!” Braedon started to go after him.

Ray held him back. “Let him go. He needs a reality check, big time.”

“How could you treat him like that?”

“No matter what I do, I can’t get the guy off my back.”

Literally.

Braedon’s green eyes bore into Ray. “You don’t know Enoch like I do. He’s been my best friend since we were kids. The guy is really sensitive.”

“The guy’s oblivious. I told him over and over again that I’m not interested.” Ray scratched at his washboard abs. “How can I get him to understand I don’t want a relationship with him? What am I doing wrong?”

Braedon’s shoulders dropped. “I guess this isn’t your fault, Ray.”

“I agree. And it’s not your fault either. People like who they like.” He smiled. “And I happen to like you.”

Braedon returned the smile. “That’s really sweet.”

“Totally.” Ray wrapped his arms around Braedon. “And we’d be really sweet together.”

“I’m flattered, but I don’t want a relationship. And I have to talk to Enoch. He looked so desperate and despondent. I need to make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid.”

After Braedon headed offstage, Ray said to himself, “What’s stupid is you not jumping at the chance to hook up with me tonight, dude.” Then Ray went backstage.

Before Braedon could fully exit the stage, Elliot Hinton and his understudy, Graduate Assistant Yates Aldrich, both appeared in Lysander’s chocolate-colored tunic, tights, and high boots. They surrounded Braedon, causing him to resemble peach filling inside a chocolate bar.

Elliot towered over Braedon. “Don’t tell anyone, but I smuggled some beer from the dorm. Meet me outside?” He winked at Braedon. “Or after I’m a star, you’ll regret missing the opportunity.”

The graduate assistant’s sapphire eyes sparkled in the stage lighting. “Braedon, I picked up some sandwiches from the deli in town—turkey and veggies with pesto mayonnaise. I know this sounds corny, but the veggies reminded me of back home on the farm. It made me feel warm all over, and I thought of you. Let’s head to the Tiring House and share some lunch.”

Braedon replied, “Thanks, guys, but I’m really worried about Enoch.”

Yates replied, “It’s nice of you to be concerned about your friend. But I’m older than you. I’ve had more years of schooling. And believe me, you can’t spend your whole life feeling sorry for a dish rag.”

“Enoch’s not a dish rag. He’s my best friend!”

“You need to make some more mature friends.” Yates grinned.

Elliot winked at Braedon. “And I’m the guy to show you how to do it.”

“I appreciate the offers, guys. But I can’t.” Braedon brushed past them, calling out, “Enoch!” And he was gone backstage.

Elliot and Yates shrugged and followed.

A few minutes later, the student stage manager called everyone back from break. All the actors and understudies sat on the benches in the groundling section—except for the five Mechanicals who took their places behind the center entrance, waiting to come on stage. After five tries to get the lighting change, the stage manager finally succeeded and gave the cue to begin.

Outside his house, Peter Quince commences rehearsal for the play he wrote to be performed at Duke Theseus’s and Queen Hippolyta’s wedding.

At the sound of their characters’ names, Martin and Ruben applauded wildly from their box seat.

Quince’s play is entitled, “The Wedding of Pyramus and Thisby.” Joining Quince to rehearse the scene, among others, are Bottom playing Pyramus the groom, and Flute cast as Thisby the bride. After their rough rehearsal, they all execute a flashy jazz dance, lifting Bottom in the air singing, “We All Need a Good Bottom.” Mid-lift, Bottom comes crashing to the floor—onto his bottom.

“Stop!”

Ruben cried out from the box, “If he’s injured, we’ll be sued.”

Martin screeched, “I refuse to be penniless when I reach old age.”

Ruben glared at him. “You reached old age before pennies were invented!”

Graduate Assistant of Movement, Yates Aldrich, raced up the stairs onto the stage. He kneeled next to Assistant Professor of Music Dante Bravo—our Bottom. Yates’s sapphire eyes displayed fear and concern. “Dante, are you hurt?”

Dante stood on flabby, and shaky legs. “No harm done.”

Everyone applauded, and appropriately shouted, “Bravo!” Dante milked the attention by bending over for a deep bow, which landed him on the stage floor bottom down once again. He smiled. “Now if I could just get a handle on the play.”

Braedon Walsh, our much-desired Hermia, hurried up the stairs. The compact student helped the bear of a professor back onto his flat feet and off stage.

Behind me, Detective Jose Manuello bragged in my ear, “During my understudy rehearsal as Bottom, I understood every word of the play, and I was as light as a feather on my feet—including during the lift.”

I glanced back at Manuello’s full tunic. “I hope the other actors are insured for hernia surgery.”

“Very funny, Nicky.”

“I’m glad you appreciate my fine wit, Manuello.”

“I appreciate it like I appreciate my enlarged prostate.”

I gasped. “Manuello, must you throw your prostate in my face?”

“My prostate isn’t anywhere near your face.”

“And let’s keep it that way, Manuello!”

Suddenly, I heard a piercing scream followed by, “Demetrius!”

Glancing around the theatre house, I noticed Ray Zhang had never come back after the break.

“Don’t move, Nicky.”

Ignoring Manuello’s orders as usual, I sprung up the stage steps, ran across the stage and through the right doorway, following the sound of the scream. I arrived in the Hut to find our prop person, Sharon Delwab, pointing to the lifeless body of Ray Zhang. Our Demetrius was face up on the floor with the point of a foil penetrating his chest. Foiled!

DRAMA FAERIE (the 9th Nicky and Noah mystery)

a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO

Discount pre-order sale until Feb. 1 only!

http://mybook.to/DramaFaerie

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/993418

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drama-faerie-joe-cosentino/1135276418?ean=2940163403288

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/drama-faerie-a-nicky-and-noah-mystery

Blurb:

It’s summer at Treemeadow College’s new Globe Theatre, where theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing a musical production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream co-starring his spouse, theatre professor Noah Oliver, their son Taavi, and their best friend and department head, Martin Anderson. With an all-male, skimpily dressed cast and a love potion gone wild, romance is in the starry night air. When hunky students and faculty in the production drop faster than their tunics and tights, Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is taking swordplay to the extreme before Nicky and Noah end up foiled in the forest. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining ninth novel in this delightful series. Take your seats. The curtain is going up on star-crossed young lovers, a faerie queen, an ass who is a great Bottom, and murder!

Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries:

“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven’t discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine

“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…

Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” “the best modern Sherlock and Watson in books today…I highly recommend this book and the entire series, it’s a pure pleasure, full of fun and love, written with talent and brio…fabulous…brilliant” Optimumm Book Reviews

“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews

“For fans of Joe Cosentino’s hilarious mysteries, this is another vintage story with more cheeky asides and sub plots right left and centre….The story is fast paced, funny and sassy. The writing is very witty with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour….Highly recommended.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews

“Every entry of the Nicky and Noah mystery series is rife with intrigue, calamity, and hilarity…Cosentino keeps us guessing – and laughing – until the end, as well as leaving us breathlessly anticipating the next Nicky and Noah thriller.” Edge Media Network

“A laugh and a murder, done in the style we have all come to love….This had me from the first paragraph….Another wonderful story with characters you know and love!” Crystals Many Reviewers

“These two are so entertaining….Their tactics in finding clues and the crazy funny interactions between characters keeps the pages turning. For most of the book if I wasn’t laughing I was grinning.” Jo and Isa Love Books

“Superb fun from start to finish, for me this series gets stronger with every book and that’s saying something because the benchmark was set so very high with book 1.” Three Books Over the Rainbow

“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance

“This is one hilarious series with a heart and it just keeps getting better. I highly recommend them all, and please read them in the order they were written for full blown laugh out loud reading pleasure!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

More About Author Joe Cosentino:

Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays/The Perfect Gift/The First Noel, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland with Holiday Tales from Fairyland; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings (NineStar Press);andthe Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and he is happily married. Joe’s books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino

Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

Exclusive Excerpt: Police Brutality (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 2) by Gregory Ashe

Excerpt:

CHAPTER FIVE

DECEMBER 17

MONDAY

10:07 AM

HAZARD BROKE DOWN ANOTHER BOX and carried it to the landing, where he had a growing pile. Moving into the office for his private investigation agency had actually been a fairly straightforward affair. Once Hazard had learned that Somers had rented the place without asking him, and once Hazard had learned that Somers would dump his dumb ass if he didn’t really get serious about opening the agency, everything had been pretty clear.

Divorce, not dump, a little voice in his brain reminded. Somers had said divorce, not dump. And then Somers had said the M word. The fucking M word.

Right now, the suite of rooms above an empty storefront on Market Street didn’t look like much, but it did look better. Some of Hazard’s efforts were paying off. The large, front room, where Somers kept talking about hiring an assistant and having him handle the administrative side of things, currently sported several tubular chairs, a fern that slumped against the cracked front window, and a painting that Somers had hung, crookedly, of the Grand Rivere. Hazard’s office held his desk, a beautifully crafted piece that Somers had stolen, literally, from his parents, and a pair of chairs. Over the last few weeks, Hazard had been moving various professional books—both ones that he had owned as a police officer and, now, ones that he had acquired as part of his new career—from home to office. Hence, the cardboard box.

Hazard crossed the room, adjusted the painting so that it was level, and went to his private office. He powered up the laptop Somers had picked out, dropped into the chair Somers had wanted him to have, and navigated the advertising website where Somers had dropped an obscene amount of money and told Hazard, when the fight about how much to spend had escalated, something to the effect of: It’s already fucking spent, so you can either use it or not.

Studying the website, Hazard tried to figure out how to use the money that Somers had spent on him. The money Hazard hadn’t earned. The money Hazard didn’t deserve. The money that might be a very poor investment, judging by how well Hazard had done with his last client, who had been abducted and tortured and almost killed. Hazard had seen Mitchell Martin in the Savers just a few weeks before, from a distance, for an instant before Hazard ran away—ran and hid. The young man was still on crutches, and he looked like he’d been partially rubbed out with an eraser.

Flyers. People still looked at flyers, right? The internet hadn’t completely obliterated flyers, had it? Hazard’s fingers hovered over the keyboard. He sat there for maybe five minutes. Thinking.

Then he closed the browser tab. Maybe he’d better start with a business card first. That would make sense, right? The business cards he had, the ones he’d bought before he was even really sure he wanted to do this, just said, Emery Hazard, Private Investigator. So Hazard looked at linen cards. Then he looked at squishy cards that turned into sponges when you put them in water. Then he went cheap, the bare bones.

And after maybe fifteen minutes, he closed the tab.

Maybe a website first. Maybe that was most important.

But the problem, the real problem, was that Hazard needed a name for the business. And a logo. He was fairly sure that he needed a logo. Something that would communicate, visually, what his business was going to stand for.

So, he told himself, quit being such a pansy about the whole thing. Quit dancing around it. Quit rearranging the three pieces of furniture, quit watering the fern, quit phoning the landlord about the cracked glass, quit playing with your dick and get down to business.

Ok. A name.

That was easy. Hazard opened a blank document, fingers flying across the keyboard. He considered what he’d written, revised. A little shorter. A little punchier. Perfect. Now he just needed a logo. He pulled up a stock images site and browsed for twenty seconds before he found exactly what he wanted. After buying the image, he pasted it onto the document. There. He was grinning, aware of the flush in his face, the ridiculously exaggerated sense of satisfaction at having accomplished even this much. But at least he had something to show Somers tonight, a mock-up for the flyers and business card and website and, fuck, LLC filing.

His printer hummed and chugged just as a knock came at the office door.

Hazard reached for his gun, the Ruger Blackhawk chambered for .45 Colt, six-cylinder, resting in the top, right-hand drawer.

“Hazard?”

For a moment, Hazard was still reacting, his hand wrapping around the Blackhawk’s checkered rubber grip, his whole world narrowing down to the need to run or shoot or both. Then, by inches, he clawed his way back to control. It had been like this for him—he couldn’t think about it more than that, couldn’t face it head-on yet—since July, when he had walked into the ruined hallways of the Haverford to face Mikey Grames.

He was getting better, he told himself.

Pulse stuttering in his neck, he hid his hand, still holding the gun, in the drawer. He worked moisture into his mouth. “Yeah?”

The doorknob turned; the door opened slowly. Walter Hoffmeister poked his head into the room like he was doing some kind of shtick.

“For fuck’s sake,” Hazard said, releasing the Blackhawk and shutting the drawer with his elbow. “Come in.”

The thing about Hoffmeister, Hazard decided as the man took a seat, was that there was nothing to love. Hoffmeister was an asshole. The whole universe was one big fire hydrant for Hoffmeister to piss on. He was tall, thin, and sallow; he looked like a foam cup yellowing in the sun.

“Aren’t you supposed to have some sort of secretary?” he asked, jerking his thumb at the empty front room.

“What do you want?”

“Kind of fucking stupid for you to be back here, hiding in a closet, with that big room empty out there.”

Hazard leaned back; the chair creaked under his weight.

Hoffmeister crossed his legs, ankle bouncing on his knee. “Place is a fucking dump.”

Hazard’s fingertips curled around the leather armrests.

“You see the front window is cracked?” Hoffmeister whistled. “You’re going to pay a fucking fortune this winter. And next summer? Jesus, you’ll have mosquitos in here the size of poodles.”

For a moment, Hazard visualized a Mack truck, a runaway, coming down Market Street with its brake lines cut. And Hazard and Hoffmeister, both of them, standing there on the curb. And Hazard’s hand on Hoffmeister’s shoulder. Like they were buddies.

And hey, it was an infinite universe. Anything could happen.

“Let’s go outside and get some fresh air,” Hazard said.

“Nah, this stretch of Market smells like fish, you know? Jesus Christ. Did you pick this place? What a fucking mess. How much are you paying? Jesus Christ, if you tell me you’re paying more than, I don’t know, a hundred and fifty bucks a month, you’re getting hosed.”

“A hundred and fifty bucks a month won’t rent you a storage unit.”

“Oh man,” Hoffmeister said, laughing, stretching out now that he’d pissed on everything, hands behind his head. But his ankle was still bouncing on top of his knee. “Oh man, you are getting dicked up the ass. I knew it. But I guess you kind of like that, right?”

“What do you want?”

Instead of answering, Hoffmeister leaned forward, brushing something invisible off the desk. He ran his thumb all the way to the end of the wood. Then, twisting back and forth, he slouched in his seat.

“You ever feel fucked?” Hoffmeister said, the words bursting out. “You ever feel like the whole universe is just out to get you? I mean, you’ve got to understand, right? You were a cop. And now you’re in this shithole. You know what I mean?”

“I know you’re really fucking lousy at asking for help.”

For the first time since coming into the office—maybe for the first time since Hazard had met him—Hoffmeister smiled. “Yeah, I guess I am. How much do you charge?”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know. I’m not just saying that. I don’t know, I really don’t. I’m fucked, ok? You heard that psycho bitch at the tree lighting yesterday, right?”

“The one who said, ‘Officer Hoffmeister must die’? Yeah, I heard her.”

“It’s bullshit. It’s fucking ridiculous. I shouldn’t have to wear a target on my back because some rainbow-sprinkles snowflake is upset that I did my job.”

“You know that woman?”

“Fuck no.”

“But you know what she’s upset about.”

“They’re all pissing their panties about the same thing, Hazard. The same fucking thing: I did my job.”

“This is all wrapped up with the lawsuit, is that it? Assault and battery—is that what it is?”

“Fucking bullshit.” Waving a hand, Hoffmeister added, “Union rep says it’s just a dustup. You know, everybody’s hot under the collar about police. My job, you know what it is? Keeping order. Keeping this town safe. And now I do my job, and what happens? My ass gets slapped with fucking criminal charges.”

“I heard that Ozark Volunteer guy, the one pressing charges, I heard he got hurt pretty bad.”

“Jesus, I knocked him to the ground. That’s it. And he was in the middle of felony assault, for whatever the fuck it’s worth.”

“It’s all just a dustup.”

“Sure, but shit, you know how it goes. This drags on and on, and I’m at a desk like an asshole. And then, when this finally clears, that son of a bitch is going to come after me for money.”

“Do you have money?”

“Fuck no, but that won’t stop him. Just hiring a lawyer is going to cost me a fortune.”

“So hiring me probably isn’t a good idea.”

“Money’s no good to me if I’m dead, dumbfuck. That’s why I’m here.” He leaned forward and drilled a finger into the desk. “Me. Alive. That’s how I want to stay.”

“You think that woman at the tree lighting is really a threat?”

Hoffmeister contracted, slouching in the seat again, chewing a thumbnail. He stared past Hazard, fixated on something Hazard couldn’t see.

“What?” Hazard said. “What happened?”

“Fuck it. This was a stupid fucking idea.”

“No, sit down. Instead of giving me the opening lines from your defense, tell me what’s going on.”

“Why? So you and Somers can have a laugh tonight? Fuck off.”

“You’re here because, for some reason, you don’t think you can take this to the police. Is that right?”

Hoffmeister didn’t answer.

“Fifty dollars an hour. A thousand-dollar retainer. I itemize expenses, and I send a report at the end of every week.”

“You can keep me alive?”

“Tell me what’s going on, and I’ll tell you what I think I can do. Then you can decide if you want to hire me.”

Still chewing a nail, Hoffmeister seemed to consider this. Then he shrugged. “I’m fucked, man. Universe has me fucked.”

“Let’s see if we can un-fuck your life.”

“You ever worked for someone? Jesus, I don’t want to be your first. Probably end up in the funny pages, one big fucking punch line.”

Hazard thought of Mitchell Martin, crutching through the Savers.

“You weren’t worried about that when you walked in here,” was all he said.

Tearing his nail from between his teeth, Hoffmeister blew out a breath. “Screw it,” he said, and then he started to talk.

Blurb:

For the first time in a long while, Emery Hazard’s life is good. His new business as a private detective is taking off. Things are good at home. He loves his boyfriend, John-Henry Somerset; he loves their daughter. He might even love the new friends they’ve found. There’s only one problem: Somers has been talking about marriage.

When a former colleague, Walter Hoffmeister, comes to Hazard and hires him to look into a series of anonymous death threats, Hazard eagerly jumps on the distraction. Hoffmeister might be a jerk, but he’s a paying jerk, and Hazard isn’t convinced the threats are serious.

Until, that is, Hoffmeister is almost gunned down on Hazard’s doorstep. As Hazard investigates more deeply, he learns that more than one person in Wahredua has a reason to wish Hoffmeister dead. His search takes him to the Ozark Volunteers, reincarnated as the Bright Lights movement, but it also leads him into a sanctuary of radical Christianity. Meanwhile, an antifa activist has arrived in town, calling for Hoffmeister’s death and threatening total war with the Bright Lights.

As Hazard continues to look for answers, he becomes a target too—and not just because he’s helping Hoffmeister. The Keeper of Bees is still at large, and the killer hasn’t lost interest in Emery Hazard. Not yet. Not, Hazard begins to suspect, until the Keeper has taken everything Hazard holds dear.

About the Author

Learn more about Gregory Ashe and forthcoming works at www.gregoryashe.com.

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