Exclusive Excerpt: Evan Sent by J.P. Bowie

Evan Sent by J.P. Bowie

Blurb:

Fiction and reality become intertwined when a young movie actor playing the role of a detective finds himself in a real-life drama that threatens to bring a sudden end to his career.

Evan Ericson is young and beautiful, a former fashion model and a gifted actor. When he is offered the role of a detective in a new film noir indie movie, he jumps at the chance, certain that this is his opportunity to leave behind the notoriety of appearing in porn movies and his dependence on drugs.

Mark Henderson is an out-of-work actor searching for his big break. When, by sheer chance, he lands a part in a new indie movie, he can’t believe his luck. Nor can he believe it when he meets Evan Ericson. Sparks fly at their first encounter. When rehearsing their roles, Mark’s world is rocked by Evan’s kiss and a new Hollywood romance is born.

But things thought long buried in the past have a nasty habit of rearing their ugly heads, and being stalked and threatened by a manic drug dealer is not something either Evan or Mark envisaged in their future together. Will Hollywood magic be enough to keep them safe or will Evan’s bad-boy reputation tear them apart?

***

Evan has helped out a one-time friend by giving him enough money to go home and escape the clutches of a loan syndicate. Now Evan is being threatened by this same syndicate and he calls on Dave Franklin and LAPD cop for help…

Excerpt:

Evan jerked his head toward the studio door, where the silhouette of a large figure was framed in the doorway. Dave…let’s hope this is good news. “Hey, Dave.”

He waved and hurried over to his friend from his modeling days. Tall, broad-shouldered, his dark-brown hair now lightly streaked with gray, Dave Franklin was still an imposing presence. He caught Evan up in a bear hug and kissed him on the forehead.

“You look even better than I remember,” he said, holding Evan at arm’s-length, his gaze sweeping over Evan’s face and body. “Why did I ever let you go?”

Evan laughed. “You were married to your job, if I recall.”

“And you were traipsing all over the world. Well, it’s good to see you. I’m glad you called me. Where’s your friend?”

Looking around, Evan spotted Mark talking to one of the sound techs but watching him and Dave at the same time. “Hey, Mark…when you’re done, come meet Dave.” Mark crossed the studio floor and approached them, a nervous expression on his face.

“Dave, this is my boyfriend, Mark Henderson.” Evan took Mark’s arm and drew him in close. He watched as the men shook hands, and Mark seemed to relax under Dave’s broad smile.

“Good to meet you, Mark. Sorry about the circumstances, but chances are I’d never have heard from Evan if there wasn’t some kind of problem.”

Evan tried not to feel guilty at Dave’s words. “We’ve talked…but you’re right, Dave, I’m terrible at keeping in touch, but it’s good to see you.”

“Is there somewhere we can talk in private?”

Mark gestured at the corridor that led to the break room. “There’s no one taking a break right now. We can use the room while it’s empty.”

“Good enough.” Dave followed them as they led the way past the camera and sound equipment. “So, this is where it all happens. I’ve never seem a movie in progress before.”

“You should stay and see Evan in his next scene,” Mark said. “We can ask Charles if it’s okay that you watch him in action.”

“That’d be great.” They entered the break room and sat at one of the tables.  “So, here’s the deal.” Dave kept his voice low even though they were the only ones in the room. “Castro wants fifty thousand—you don’t have it, but you can offer him a helluva lot more.”

Evan stared at him in surprise. “I can?”

“Yep. You can offer him fifty thousand dollars’ worth of cocaine, which on the street will rake in five, six times as much. And if I’m right about the punk, he’ll leap at the chance to acquire that much blow.”

“But where the hell would I find that amount of coke?”

Dave grinned. “Oh, we have some lying around. Okay, I’ve talked with the chief, and with your help we’re going to put together a sting operation. This is how it will work. You will call Castro and make the offer. Sound very nervous. You’re an actor, so you can do it. Make him believe you managed to acquire the coke by devious means, which of course you cannot divulge to him. He won’t question you too much, but he will be suspicious of the quality. He’s gonna want to check it out. You will have to meet with him face to face.”

Mark shifted uncomfortably. “Won’t that be dangerous? Evan alone with a criminal?”

“Don’t worry, we’ll be there, only Castro can’t know about our involvement.”

“So, I meet with him, then what?” Evan asked, leaning forward in his seat.

“You’ll have a sample for him to check out. You’ll wear a wire. Any conversation you have with Castro or his cronies will be picked up by us and recorded as evidence. Don’t worry, wires are totally unnoticeable these days. Tiny, like a thread. Once he’s okay with the quality, he’ll arrange with you a time and place for the drop-off. You will hand the cocaine over, and that’s when we step in and arrest him. We figure once he’s out of the picture the rest of the cartel will dissolve. There might be somebody there who thinks he can become the kingpin, but that’ll be easier for us to deal with. Castro is the one we want, and from what I’ve heard about the guy, he might just sing about the rest of the thugs he’s involved with.”

Mark visibly shivered. “It still sounds dangerous to me.”

Dave nodded. “There is a danger factor, I won’t deny it. These guys are volatile, and Castro will be suspicious. It’s up to you, Evan, to come across scared enough to get them off your back. That you’ll do anything to be free of the debt. How d’you feel about this?”

Evan chuckled. “Well, I’ve got the scared part down perfect. I won’t have to act too hard to make them believe it.”

“Are you sure, Evan?” Mark asked. “About this, I mean? What if these guys are armed?”

“Oh, they will be,” Dave said grimly. “They don’t go anywhere without guns. So, yeah, there is a distinct possibility there will be a show of arms. But they’re not gonna shoot you, Evan. Castro will want the deal, I’m sure of it.”

“How sure?” Mark snapped.

“Sure as I am about anything to do with drug dealers. Number one, they are greedy. Money means everything to them, and a deal like this will look mighty sweet to Castro.” Dave paused and looked at Evan, a frown creasing his forehead. “Okay, now this has to be entirely your decision, Evan. I’ll understand if you don’t want to get involved. I won’t underestimate the danger aspect of it. All I can do is tell you that we will be with you every step of the way.”

“Okay, I’ll do it.” Evan smiled at Mark and took his hand. “I’m not gonna be on my own, babe. I’ll have LA’s finest at my back. It’ll be fine.”

The door swung open at that moment and two of the crew stepped inside. Dave stood and indicated with a jerk of his head that they should leave. Just then his cell phone rang.  “Franklin. Yeah? Okay, be right there. Sorry, guys.” He gave Evan and Mark a rueful look. “Have to take a rain check on watching the movie action. Gotta head into the precinct right away.”

“That sucks,” Evan said. “And here I was ready to show you my acting chops.”

Dave grinned. “Next time.” Evan and Mark walked him over to the exit. “I’ll be in touch once I get the details ironed out with the chief. If Castro calls again, tell him you’re working on a deal to get him his money. That’ll shut him up for a while.”

They said their goodbyes, then Mark dragged Evan into a dark corner of the studio and wrapped his arms around him. “I don’t want you to do this, Evan, I really don’t. Surely we can work this out without you having to put yourself in danger. We can get a loan, pay this Castro guy off and get on with our lives.”

Evan leaned into Mark’s embrace and nuzzled his throat. “I think there’s more to it than just paying off Dareck’s debt. What Dave is trying to do is put some bad guys out of business, and I’m all for that. A year and half ago I gave up drugs. It was tough. I wasn’t exactly an addict, but I came pretty close, and I saw, because of the company I kept, some really bad scenes. Guys strung out so bad they had to be taken to the ER. Some didn’t make it. During that time I had unprotected sex with men, and sometimes I had no clue who they even were. I was lucky. At the end of it all I was clear of STDs. I was broke, but I still considered myself lucky. I don’t judge people who get off on drugs, but a part of me wants to see guys like Miguel Castro shut down, put away for a nice long stretch, and the drugs he sells just that little bit harder to get.”

“So, this is like a crusade?” Mark frowned at him. “You want to put your life in danger in order to stop one drug dealer when there are a hundred more like him out there ready to take over his business? What about me, Evan? What about us? If anything happened to you now, I just don’t know what I’d do…”

“Nothing’s gonna happen to me, babe. Okay, I wasn’t going to admit this to you…” He caressed Mark’s face with is fingertips. His voice was low and rueful, although his gaze never moved from Mark’s as he explained. “I’ve been in something like this before, when I was younger. Not with the cops, just me and a friend who wanted to help a guy we knew being threatened by drug-dealing scum. We set a trap for them, pretending we were buyers and we…well, we beat the crap outta them. All those years of having to defend myself in foster care and the institution paid off, I guess. I wasn’t exactly a street fighter, but I knew some moves. I’d met Dave by that time and I called him when it was all over, and he took them in. This time Dave and a bunch of cops will be right there the whole time. If things get testy they’ll step in.”

“Just like that? This isn’t a movie, Evan, where it’s all planned out, choreographed, rehearsed. Things could go really wrong. These are real criminals we’re talking about.”

“I know that,” Evan said, more sharply than he had intended, and Mark stepped back from their embrace, his expression etched with worry. Evan immediately regretted his outburst. “Sorry…” He laid a light kiss on Mark’s lips. “It’ll be okay, sweetheart. I know this isn’t a movie, but Dave won’t go in without a solid plan. Castro and his men might be armed, but so will the cops—”

“That’s supposed to make me feel better?” Mark groaned. “What if you get caught in the crossfire?”

“Mark, come on, babe. You are looking at this as the worst possible scenario. Chances are Castro will go for the deal, I’ll back off and the police will take over.”

“You make it sound so easy, and I just know it won’t be.” Mark put his arms around Evan again and laid his head on Evan’s shoulder. “I won’t sleep a wink if you agree to go through with Dave’s plan.”

“I’ve already decided.”

Mark sighed. “I know you have. Damn you.”

“I love you.” Evan tilted Mark’s head toward him and kissed his lips gently. “Very much.”

Mark’s eyes brimmed with tears as he stared at Evan. “I love you too, even though I hate you at this moment.”

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