Exclusive Excerpt: A Body on the Hill (A Mitch O’Reilly Mystery Book 2) by Brad Shreve

Excerpt:

There was a slight drizzle of rain, and typical for Los Angeles, people drove as if it was a blizzard. I was a few miles away from Dominique’s hotel when my phone rang.

It was Devin Doss.

“Oh, Mitch,” Devin exclaimed. “Thank the Lord I reached you. Someone has been in our apartment and ravaged it.”

“What happened, Devin? Did you call the police?”

“No, I wanted to talk with you first. Especially, since I ain’t talked with Cody. I can’t find her.”

“Is she…uh, he at work?”

“She’s supposed to be, but she ain’t there. Won’t answer her phone or texts either.”

“I’ll see if I can get ahold of him and head your way.”

“Thank you, Mr. Detective. I’m scared being here all by myself.”

I sent a text to Cody to see if he was working but got no response. It was likely he didn’t hear his phone buzzing in the crowded club. I tried calling several times, but he didn’t answer.

I was able to reach his boss, Luna Salcedo.

“I have no idea where he is,” she said. “I’ve called and have had no answer. It’s not like him to be irresponsible. I hope he didn’t have an accident or…”

“What time was he scheduled to work?”

“6:00 p.m., and he’s usually here ten minutes early.”

“Over an hour late for his shift is a pretty good sign that he doesn’t plan to come in.”

“I would agree,” Luna said.

“I’ll swing by his place and let you know if I find him.”

“Please do. I’m worried.”

Because of the rain, the neighborhood in Koreatown was dark and empty. I was surprised and excited when I found a parking space in front of Devin and Cody’s apartment building. It’s those little things that made us Angelenos happy.

The light on the second landing of the stairwell was out. That with the tapping of the sprinkles on the window gave me chills I hadn’t felt when I had been there during the day. My steps quickened up to Devin’s door at apartment 302.

I asked, “Any word from Cody?”

“Not a thing,” Devin huffed. “Come on, I’ll show you the damage.”

“I talked to Cody’s boss. She hasn’t heard from him.”

“Oh Lord! I hope nothing happened to her. She best not lose his job whoring around. I can’t afford this place on my own, and Cody’s already late with rent. She better hope she’s in trouble.” Devin put his hand to his lips. “There goes my mouth again. What a terrible thing for me to say.”

“Do you want to show me the damage? Everything out here looks okay.”

“Come with me.”

I followed Devin as he sashayed to Austin’s room. It was empty except for four open boxes sitting on the floor.

I said, “How can this room be ravaged?”

“Hold on.”

Devin opened the closet door. Two more boxes sat with their flaps open, and the rack was full of hanging clothes.

“All the things in these boxes were neatly stacked and flaps were closed. Look at them now?”

“Hardly looks like they were ravaged.”

“Ms. Cody hasn’t been in this room since the last day you were here. It upsets her too much. Austin’s death finally sunk in. Everything here Dominique left for us to take to Goodwill, but I ain’t done it by myself. I came in to grab Austin’s old rain jacket, and this is how I found the place. Boxes open and clothes moved around.”

“It’s probably a good thing you didn’t call the police over a messy closet.”

“I don’t leave things messy, Mr. Detective,” he hissed.

I asked, “Do you know where Cody parked his car?”

“In this neighborhood there ain’t no telling. If you don’t have a driveway, which we don’t, you park in the first place you can find. Sometimes that means a block or two away. Sometimes more.”

I went out the building and walked two blocks down the street in each direction. Cody’s car was nowhere to be seen. I stepped back inside to see Devin.

I said, “Cody’s car isn’t out front. Where else would he park?”

“Sometimes she goes and parks on James Wood Drive. I keep telling her she’s crazy to do that. Cody goes out the back to get there. Totally cray cray.”

“Show me where.”

I followed Devin down the hall on the first floor. In the rear of the building was a door that opened into a courtyard between the buildings.

“Where does he go?” I asked.

“Straight down that alley, but you’re on your own. It’s getting dark, and I won’t go out that way.”

The courtyard was barely visible from a small yellow light hung on the side of the building next door. There was a basketball hoop, but judging by the board hanging sideways it looked like it hadn’t been used in a long time. In one corner was a homeless camp with blankets rolled out and several piles of garbage bags. No one was there to stake their claim. From the courtyard, I took a slow walk up the alley leading to where Cody’s car was parked. The entire alley was free and clear except for a pile of debris midway to the street. There were several garbage bags opened and with trash spewing out. Some broken furniture and an old box spring on its side leaning against a gray stucco building.

Finding bodies is not a habit I enjoy, and I was worried I’d find Cody’s body there. Could also be rats, or some crazy man with a knife or a broken bottle. When I got close my heart sank. Sticking out from behind the box spring was a pair of bare feet. As I got closer there was heavy breathing and grunting sounds. Goddamn in hell, they were still alive.

When I tilted the box spring forward, I found a haggard, grungy woman lying silently while holding a shopping bag from Target. I carefully let go of the box spring and backed away so as not to wake her.

I cased James Wood Drive for five minutes before I spotted Cody’s dark green 2012 Ford Focus parked in front of Ultra-Fast Check Cashing. Cash in Minutes with Low Fees the sign promised.

A car is just a car, and I should have had no qualms approaching it, but experience had taught me that sometimes there are dead bodies inside. It was a day I wasn’t feeling up to reliving.

Bio:

After growing up in Michigan and North Carolina, I crisscrossed the country while working in the hotel industry. In addition to working in hotels as a bellman, front desk clerk, and reservation call center director, I managed coffee houses, waited tables, sold potato chips off a truck, and even hawked pre-burial funeral plans.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak developed my first interests in art and storytelling. I’d spend hours on the floor sketching and painting and writing stories.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George gave me my first inklings that I’d like to be a novelist someday. Authors Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton, Gregory Mcdonald and Robet B. Parker, influenced my love of mystery.

I was delighted when I discovered the gay mystery subgenre and the list of writers who inspired me to follow this more comfortable direction are too numerous to mention.

Though my interest in writing began at an early age, entering the hotel business soon after graduation steered me in a different direction. The secretary, the big office and a prestigious title were great for the ego but weren’t all that fulfilling.

As a grownup I was thinking of what I wanted to do when I became a bigger grownup and the answer was obvious. My fingertips have been on the keyboard ever since.

I’m a proud dad, beach bum, and coffee house squatter.

I currently live in the Los Angeles South Bay with my husband, Maurice.

Links:

Book:

Kindle available on Amazon

Paperback available everywhere

https://bradshreve.com/

Exclusive Excerpt: The Same Breath (The Lamb and the Lion Book 1) by Gregory Ashe

Excerpt:

5

Jem went to the bar in the Apollonia, one of the most expensive hotels in Salt Lake City, situated between Temple Square and the Salt Palace Convention Center—in other words, the perfect place to stumble across closeted gay Mormon businessmen who had some extra cash to burn. He timed his entrance so that he collided with a stout, middle-aged guy in a Jazz jersey. They exchanged apologies, and Jem made his way to the bar. He ignored Stef, who was drying glasses behind the bar and rolling her eyes. Her hair was red now, and the sides of her head shaved.

It only took a moment to scan the sheep at the bar: four men, two in conversation, two sitting by themselves. Jem immediately crossed off the guy on the right; he was engaged in a loud phone call with someone he kept calling princess. The guy on the left, though, had looked over when Jem collided with the other man at the bar’s entrance, and he’d already glanced at Jem a second time. He was a nice looking, blond, late thirties, probably really starting to feel the pinch of a wife and two and a half kids. Between his hands, he cupped a tumbler—so maybe he wasn’t the nice Mormon daddy he looked like. Jem counted three stools over and sat.

Stef was rolling her eyes again.

Ignoring her, Jem asked about local whiskey and bourbon.

“We’ve got High West.” Stef had her lines pretty much perfect by now. “They do a traditional, Old West blended whiskey: rye, scotch, and bourbon. Do you want to try it?”

Jem made a face.

“It’s pretty good,” the guy to Jem’s left said. “I tried the Campfire.”

“Yeah?” Jem said. “Honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing.” He laughed. “I’m not much of a drinker, but, I don’t know. Tonight I was feeling a little reckless.”

“Get him a Campfire neat,” the guy said, and then he swiveled on the stool, his legs spread, studying Jem openly.

Jem had never really mastered blushing on demand, but he could do a pretty good job of combing his fingers through his beard, biting the corner of his mouth, looking away and looking back. The guy’s grin got bigger, more confident. When Stef came back, setting a tumbler in front of him, Jem patted himself down and lurched off the stool.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jem said. “Hold on.”

He made his way back to the entrance, studying the floor, squatting near the door. After about a minute, the guy from the bar came over.

“What happened?”

“Somehow I dropped my money.”

“You lost your wallet?”

“No, I left my wallet in my room. I just brought cash and my ID.” He flashed the Montana driver’s license, one of many fakes. “Dang it. Never mind. This is like a sign, you know? I should have just watched Rocky and gone to bed. I cannot believe I dropped that money. It was the rest of my per diem.”

“You know what?” the guy said. “I don’t think you dropped it.”

Jem worked on his quizzical expression; he was getting pretty good at quizzical. “What do you mean?”

“That guy who ran into you on the way out? That’s a classic pickpocket move. Crash into a guy, take his wallet while he’s recovering, and he doesn’t realize until you’re long gone. A hotel like this, with a lot of people from out of town? Perfect venue.”

“Oh my gosh,” Jem groaned. “Are you serious? That actually happens?”

“All the time. Don’t worry; you’ll learn these things.”

“No way,” Jem said. “I’m going back to Missoula tomorrow, and I’m not leaving again.” He chuckled. “Would you believe I was so proud of myself for getting around the last few days? I thought I was street smart.”

The guy laughed a little too, touched Jem’s shoulder, and tugged him toward the bar. “Come on, have a drink. On me. Don’t beat yourself up about it; guys like that, they prey on people who are just a little too confident.”

“Gosh,” Jem said, trying hard to ignore Stef pretending to stab herself in the ear. “That’s crazy.”

This time, they sat next to each other. The guy introduced himself as Patrick; he had a whole story about working out of San Francisco, but when he put his phone and keys on the bar, his keychain had a loyalty card for a sandwich shop that only operated in the Salt Lake Valley—Jem recognized the logo—and his ring finger showed a lighter patch of skin where he normally wore a wedding band. Jem spun him a story back, something about ranching in Montana, keeping the details light. When Patrick spread his legs, Jem spread his legs. When Patrick leaned on the bar, Jem leaned on the bar. Jem asked questions, always tagging on Patrick, Patrick, Patrick, working the name into conversation as much as he could. Nothing too personal, because he didn’t want Patrick to spook and think Jem might have realized Patrick was local and not a California tycoon, but he asked business questions, then questions about whiskey, questions about life. Questions about women, Jem unspooling his doubts: why couldn’t he find the one? Why didn’t it feel ‘right’? Anything to make Jem look naïve and inexperienced; anything to make Patrick feel worldly and sophisticated.

When Stef brought sliders, nachos, and a draft beer, Patrick’s hand moved to Jem’s thigh.

Deer-in-the-headlights was a Jem Berger classic, and Patrick ate it up like candy.

Patrick smiled. He was in control, the mature guy who was about to make a contest and also provide a moment of sexual awakening. Jem focused on the sliders so he didn’t throw up a little inside his mouth.

“I think maybe you want to keep talking,” Patrick said. “Do you want to go back to your room?”

Jem gulped. It might have been a little over the top, based on the face Stef made, but it worked a surprising amount of the time. “My buddy’s here with me.”

“Oh.”

“But we could go to your room,” Jem said, and then he played with his beard and stared at the food, mumbling, “If, you know, if you want to.”

“Yeah,” Patrick said. “I definitely want to.” He laughed, squeezed Jem’s leg, and excused himself to go to the bathroom.

“You are a bad man,” Stef said.

“Fuck that,” Jem said. “This asshole probably lives fifteen minutes from here,” the words emerged between bites as he shoveled the remaining food into his mouth, “and he’s going to get a room right now because he thinks he’s going to get his dick wet. My bet is that he’ll try to get me to leave right after, and if I won’t, then he’ll make up an excuse and jet. The little wifey will miss him if he’s gone too late.”

“You are a very bad man,” Stef said, and then she drifted away as Patrick came back.

“Hey, cowboy,” Patrick said, his hand light on Jem’s shoulder. Jem tried, again, not to throw up a little. “Ready?”

Jem licked the last of the nacho cheese off his finger, grinned, and nodded.

A nice-looking guy, the first good meal all week, some decent whiskey, a soft bed, and a room that had honest-to-God heat. Jem whistled “Home, Home on the Range,” while Patrick groped him in the elevator.

Blurb:

Teancum Leon, who goes by Tean, is a wildlife veterinarian. His life has settled into a holding pattern: he loves his job, he hates first dates, and he only occasionally has to deal with his neighbor Mrs. Wish’s cat-related disasters.

All of that changes, though, when a man appears in his office, asking for help to find his brother. Jem is convinced that something bad has happened to Benny, and he thinks Tean might be able to help. Tean isn’t sure, but he’s willing to try. After all, Jem is charming and sweet and surprisingly vulnerable. Oh. And hot.

Then things get strange: phone calls with no one on the other end of the line; surveillance footage that shows what might be an abduction; a truck that tries to run Tean and Jem off the road. As Tean and Jem investigate, they realize that Benny might have stumbled onto a conspiracy and that someone is willing to kill to keep the truth from coming out.

But not everything is as it seems, and Tean suspects that Jem has been keeping secrets of his own.

More About Author Gregory Ashe:

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

Gregory Ashe

For advanced access, exclusive content, limited-time promotions, and insider information, please sign up for my mailing list here or at http://bit.ly/ashemailinglist.

The Keeper of Bees (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 5) by Gregory Ashe

SOMERS TOSSED A SALAD: romaine, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, feta, and big, fat kalamata olives. Then he seared chicken breasts. His eyes went to the clock. At first, every five minutes or so. And then, after the chicken breasts were cooled and sliced on a cutting board, every two minutes. After that, he started checking his phone. The digital clock on the lock screen stared back at him.

When the garage door rattled up, Somers blew out a breath, gave himself a mental shake, and took plates out of the cabinet. He gave the salad another toss as the door between the house and the garage opened. Look at me, happy and domestic. Could he paint a sign on his back?

“Hey,” he said, turning to grab the first plate, “did you get held up? I thought you were going to be home early.”

His fingers closed over the plate; his hand lifted. And then he saw Hazard’s face: washed out, dark spots under his eyes, like he was sick or exhausted. Somers tried to set the plate back down, but his fingers released too early.

“Ree, are you—”

The plate wobbled on the edge of the counter. Somers saw it out of the corner of his eye and reached for it, but he was too slow. The plate tilted, slid, and crashed onto the tile.

Hazard went rigid. His body tightened, while his face seemed to slacken, as though the fine muscles there had stopped responding. Then he surged into motion, charging into the kitchen.

“Jesus fucking Christ, John. What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“I’m sorry, I—”

One of Hazard’s big hands came out, caught a stack of envelopes on the counter, and smacked them into the air. “Is that what we’re doing now? Just throwing shit whenever we want? For the fucking love of God, John, you’re a fucking adult. Pick up those fucking pieces, will you? Do you want Evie to cut herself?”

Somers took a step across the ceramic shards. He wasn’t even sure if Hazard realized it, but the big man veered away, yanking at the collar of his t-shirt.

“Evie’s at Cora’s tonight,” Somers said. “Will you take a breath please?”

“I am taking a breath, I’m taking a really deep breath, ok? I just want to know why you don’t seem to care that those fucking plates cost fucking money, John. We’re fucking strapped as it is, and I have to come home to you breaking the little shit that we do have.”

“All right. That’s enough.”

“For fuck’s sake,” Hazard shouted, and then he kicked one of the kitchen chairs. It toppled, sliding across the tile until it came up against the wall, and then Hazard had to kick it out of his way so he could leave the kitchen.

Somers took two steps after him before he stopped. Then he ran shaking hands down his thighs, turned, and leaned into the refrigerator. In his mind’s eye, he saw the extra-cold drawer, where—months before—they had kept bottle after bottle of Bud Lite. And now, Pepsi and sparkling water and fruit juice. But he could walk to St. Taffy’s and get a beer. He could even get a shot, maybe two. Maybe a line of them, like dominoes—knock the first one down, and it took the rest with it. And Somers at the end, the final domino, when the last shot kicked so hard it knocked him right out of his fucking head. He ran his hands across his shirt. He didn’t even need to go to St. Taffy’s. Spud’s Liquor was within walking distance too; he could pour his own line of shots.

Upstairs, a door slammed. Their bedroom. And then, muffled, another door slammed. Their bathroom.

Somers got the broom and swept up the broken plate. Then he got a Pepsi. He got through half the can before it was too sweet, his teeth starting to ache, and he left it on the counter. Climbing the stairs, he talked himself through all the reasons he loved Emery Hazard: he was kind, smart, strong, passionate. He was good. The list seemed short tonight. The bedroom door was locked, and Somers backtracked to the key they’d hidden on the frame for Evie’s door. It was just a flat piece of metal, designed for the generic privacy locks that weren’t really meant for any serious kind of security. He went into their bedroom and found it dark.

Something warned Somers to leave the lights off, so he picked his way through the darkness. They’d lived here almost a year, and even after a year, Somers couldn’t find his way through the room without a light. He bumped into the dresser. He hit the bed. He stubbed his toe on something—he had no idea what; maybe Hazard had been ordering enormous bronze urns for their bedroom, because it sure fucking felt like it—and when he swore and hopped up and down, the ragged breathing inside the bathroom cut off. When Somers finally reached the door, he knocked.

“Go away,” Hazard said, his voice thick. “Please, John.”

Blurb:

Emery Hazard has pretty much everything under control. He and his fiancé, John-Henry Somerset, are more in love than ever, despite the stress of wedding preparations hanging over them. His business as a private investigator is growing. He’s even enjoying time with his growing circle of friends. The only major problem on the horizon is whether or not he and Somers will be dancing at the wedding reception.

When Mitchell Martin shows up in his office, though, everything changes. The year before, Mitchell was abducted and tortured by a sadistic killer known only as the Keeper of Bees. Now Mitchell is convinced that the Keeper has come back, and he wants to hire Hazard to protect him.

While Hazard works to keep Mitchell safe, Somers must adjust to changes at work. A spate of new hires has disrupted the Wahredua Police Department, and Somers finds himself locked in a struggle to determine how the department will grow and evolve, with long-term consequences that will affect the town for years to come.

Then a woman is found murdered, and she has been staged and posed in a way that is eerily similar to the Keeper of Bee’s former victims. As Hazard and Somers race to prevent more deaths, Hazard fears they are already too late; the Keeper of Bees has been ahead of them the whole time.

More About Author Gregory Ashe:

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

Gregory Ashe

For advanced access, exclusive content, limited-time promotions, and insider information, please sign up for my mailing list here or at http://bit.ly/ashemailinglist.

Exclusive Excerpt: Drama Runway: A Nicky and Noah Mystery (Nicky and Noah Mysteries Book 10) by Joe Cosentino

Miles scratched at his head. “Not that it’s any of my business, but what do you have against your mother?”

Cory’s body tensed. “She doesn’t love me.”

“You don’t really believe that, Cory.”

He leaned over and his pecs widened like boulders. “My childhood memories of my mother are watching her talk on the phone, work at her computer, design at her drafting table, and sew at her machine.”

“So now you’re punishing her for working hard to support you all those years?”

“No, she’s punishing me for not wanting any part of her cover-up.”

“Her cover-up?”

Cory nodded. “My mother is drowning herself in work, so she doesn’t have to face reality.”

“What reality?”

“I’m not sure. But it has to do with something that happened a long time ago. When I was a kid, I’d watch her in bed, weeping over her old diary.”

Hm, a mini-mystery. Too bad we don’t have a mystery solver. Wait, we do. Me!

“Did you ever ask your mom about it?”

Cory nodded. “Each time I got her cold shoulder and icy stare.”

“Why don’t you try to comfort her?”

“Isn’t that your job?”

“I’m not her son. You are.” Miles sighed. “I’ve said enough. I hope you and your mother work things out.”

“I wouldn’t waste too much time hoping.”

“Good point.” Miles opened his briefcase and took out his laptop. “My business is the task given to me by my employer.”

Cory groaned. “Are you really going to be my matchmaker?”

Miles’ long index finger revolved around the mousepad. “I’ve done quite a bit of research on the topic. A human being seems to work much more effectively than dating apps.”

Cory flexed his biceps. “I don’t need dating apps.”

“Yes, it seems you’ve been quite active on campus.” Miles opened a file on his computer.

“So have I.”

Cory cocked his head. “What do you mean?”

“I did my first interview on campus.”

“You told some guy about my mother’s matchmaking scheme?”

“Not exactly. I said I’m conducting a survey about gay men on campus.”

“Why did he give you any information?”

“Your mother left me an expense account.”

Cory gasped. “You paid someone to talk about me?”

“Pretty much.”

Martin will salivate over this gossip.

Miles read from his computer screen, “Shane Buff, twenty-one, fashion major.”

“I boned him last night.” Cory slid to the edge of his seat. “What did Shane say about me?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“You’re right. He was boring in bed, and out of bed. Shane isn’t right for me anyway. He’s totally into himself.”

Miles smirked. “Studies show opposites attract, so I agree with you there too.”

Cory did a doubletake. “Did you just put me down?”

If the ego fits.

“Cory, it’s pretty clear that you bedded Shane in a lame attempt at punishing your mother for not giving you the attention you crave.”

“Are you a personal assistant or a psychiatrist?”

“I was a business major, but I took some psych classes in college.”

“So you are psychoanalyzing me now?”

“It’s not too difficult. You’re a textbook example of a spoiled child crying out for affection.”

Cory got to his feet. “I don’t have to listen to this.”

“You do if you want to hear what other guys say about you.”

He resumed his seat. “I’m listening.”

“After I complete more interviews, you’ll be the first to know.”

“I don’t think you’ll get very far. Most guys will play with me, but none of them want a relationship.”

“You may have a point.” Miles rubbed his square jaw. “Perhaps I’ve been going at this all wrong.” He tented his fingers. “I need to get to know you better before picking a husband for you.”

Cory chuckled. “I’m sure my mother had lots to say about me.”

“I’d like to hear it from the source. So tell me, what don’t I know about Cory Ultimate?”

Cory shrugged. “My life is pretty much an open book.” He spread his legs, revealing a huge bulge.

“I know you’ve been promiscuous.”

Cory’s eyes turned to brown slits. “Gee, feel free to say whatever you like about me, Miles.”

“No problem.” Miles placed his fingers on the keypad. “But I’m more interested in what you have to say about you.”

Cory unleashed his luscious dimples. “Okay, I’m totally hot, a B student, and a terrific set and lighting designer.”

Not to mention modest.

Cory smirked. “And one day I stand to inherit Ultimate Fashions, which I will sell to the highest bidder before the rest of my mother’s body grows as cold as her heart.”

“Why did you come to Treemeadow College?”

“It’s in Vermont, and my mother lives in California.”

The wonderful faculty in the Theatre Department didn’t attract you?

Miles asked him, “The past murders at this college didn’t frighten you?”

I solved every one of those after only five murders per case!

Cory stared at Miles defiantly. “I’m not afraid to die. Just think, when I’m dead I’ll be as stiff as my mother.”

“You have a smart mouth, kid.”

“I was thinking the same thing about you, assistant.”

Their glances met.

Cory got to his feet again. “Which reminds me. I have to check on the set before the tech rehearsal.”

“Is that what you want to do with your life, be a set designer?”

He looked down at Miles. “As a matter of fact, yes.”

“What draws you to the theatre?”

Your wonderful play directing professor?

Cory seemed to ponder the question. “In the theatre, it’s okay to make believe, hide from the world, and create the reality of your choice. When I use my artistic skills, imagination, and technical knowledge to create a set design or a lighting plot, I feel like the master of my universe.”

“Do you want to be a model too?”

“No, I’m just here for the scenery.” Cory grinned.

“Then modeling seems pretty shallow.”

Cory grimaced. “Since we’re talking about goals, why do you want to be a personal assistant? That doesn’t seem like a life’s ambition.”

“It fits my skillset.”

“Creating my mother’s world?”

“No, helping her navigate successfully through the world she’s created.”

Cory smirked. “How selfless.”

“Not really. I take pride in Ulla’s accomplishments as much as in my own.”

“And you’re comfortable living in my mother’s shadow?”

“Just as comfortable as you are living in the shadows of a stage.”

I heard footsteps behind me. So I leapt around the curtain. “Cory, please get into your wardrobe.”

He saluted, leapt onto the runway, and disappeared into the dressing room.

Miles sat toward the center of the house. I headed into the theatre, where I took my usual front row center seat and readied my notepad and pen. Noah sat next to me, offering a supportive hand squeeze. Martin, in a vermillion bowtie and sweater vest, and Ruben, in a matching leisure suit, filed in behind us.

Craning my neck back toward Martin, I whispered, “I have some dish for you later.”

He whispered back, “Forget a word of it and this campus will have another murder—yours!”

Ruben rested an arm around his husband’s small back. “Leave the nice man alone, honey, so he can direct the fashion show.”

Ulla Ultimate came down the runway and took a seat next to Miles.

Finally, Hoss Packer exited down the runway, giving the illusion of a bodybuilding competition rather than a fashion show. When he was seated in the lighting booth toward the rear of the house, I called out, “Let’s pick it up from where we left off last night, everyone.” I noticed Associate Professor of Fashion Tyler Greenway and his student Lila Hekekia enter from the rear of the house and sit in the last row.

The house lights dimmed, and then they went on again. The stage lights came on, and they went out again.

“Hoss, is there a problem?”

“Sorry, Professor. I needed to reset the computer.”

“Are you ready now, Hoss?”

He replied, “Ready.”

The house lights dimmed, and the stage lights came up with a lemon glow.

“Magenta not lemon!”

“Sorry, Professor.”

The stage lights turned to magenta, and the runway lights exploded—literally. After Hoss repaired them, we resumed, and the models started down the runway in their bedtime outfits.

Julio Bonero was first in a black leather nightshirt and cap. At the tip of the runway, he spun into a costume malfunction—about six inches long and uncut. As I wrote a note on my pad, Cosmo Capra strutted down the runway in black leather pajamas and slippers—with chocolate stains on his cheek. When he turned, a button popped off his pajama tops. While I wrote frantically, Taavi made his appearance blowing kisses like a rock star at a concert. He smiled and strutted down the runway in black leather footed pajamas featuring pictures of animals.

After Cory showed his stuff in a long black leather T-shirt and slippers, Noah rested a hand on my knee. We said in unison, “Where’s Shane?” It’s a cute couple thing we do. So is solving murder mysteries.

When our question was met by shrugs from the models, I ran up the steps and practically flew across the runway. The dressing room was empty. Across the hall in the sewing room, I found Johnny and Tia (while texting) doing last minute repairs. “Have either of you seen Shane Buff?”

They shook their heads while they worked.

I raced out the sewing room door and scanned the area outside around the building. When I made my way toward the back alleyway, I found a bloodied Shane Buff lying motionless on the stone floor. Next to him was a mannequin streaked with blood. Modeling for Dummies.

Blurb:

It’s spring break at Treemeadow College, and theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing a runway show for the Fashion Department. Joining him are his spouse, theatre professor Noah Oliver, their son Taavi, and their best friend and department head, Martin Anderson. The show, designed by visiting professor Ulla Ultimate, is bound to be the ultimate event of the season. And bound it is with designs featuring black leather and chains. When sexy male models drop faster than their leather chaps, Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is taking the term “a cut male model” literally before Nicky and Noah end up steamed in the wardrobe steamer. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining tenth novel in this delightful series. Take your seats. The runway is lighting up with hunky models, volatile designers, bitter exes, newfound lovers, and murder!

Purchase Links:

http://mybook.to/DramaRunway

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1025298

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drama-runway-joe-cosentino/1137112697?ean=2940164095888

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

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