Exclusive Excerpt: The Paradoxical Parent (A Nick Williams Mystery Book 13) by Frank W Butterfield


Monday, March 7, 1955

It’s been a big year for Nick & Carter and they are finally back home in San Francisco, trying to take it easy after all their globe-trotting adventures.

But, there’s no rest for the weary, not yet, as Nick learns about the last place his mother lived before she died and is off again, across the country, going from the warm waters of the South Pacific to his first real-life snowstorm in New England.

As he and Carter, helped by Frankie & Maria Vasco, meet some of the people who once knew Nick’s mother and learn more about who she was and who she loved, they also encounter one of the most disturbing things to come from Nick’s own past.

After a policeman is murdered and other innocent people are threatened, Nick realizes it’s time to put a stop to a killer’s madness, even if it means that he has to pull the trigger himself.


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Once we were in bed and snuggled under three thick blankets, I finally felt warm for the first time since we’d landed.

Carter snuggled up against me. He rarely did that since there wasn’t much of me to snuggle with. But, every now and then, he held me like a teddy bear. A thin teddy bear. It usually meant he was upset about something.

As he put his head on my chest, I asked, “Are you OK?”

He sighed but didn’t say anything. I stroked his head for a moment. Letting them go where they wanted, I ran my fingers around the contours of his exposed right ear, down his jawline, around his lips, and up the bridge of his nose. Getting no response, not even an attempt at biting a finger, I let my hand go down his chest. I ran my fingers through his chest hair and finally got a deep breath out of him.

“I love you, Carter Woodrow Wilson Jones.”

He shifted and pulled me in tighter.

“When we get to Boston, I bet we can find a gymnasium for you to punch things in.”

That got a chuckle.

“Maybe they’ll have a heavyweight boxer who’ll go a few rounds with you.”


“Isn’t that the word?”

“Sure. But since when do you know boxing classes?”

“Dunno. Maybe I read it in Life Magazine.”

He snorted.

Now I knew he was feeling better.

“Those dames were something, weren’t they?” he asked.

“They were.” I laughed as I remembered what Grace had said about us having fun together.

“What?” he asked.

“Don’t you think we owe it to them to have a little fun tonight?”

I could feel him stiffen. I suddenly realized what was going on. “It’s because of whose bed we’re in, isn’t it?”

He sighed but didn’t reply.

“Look. For some reason it doesn’t bother me.” I thought about that for a moment. I realized I’d been feeling lighter ever since I’d stood in the same room earlier in the day and had realized what had likely happened.

“It bothers me. I feel like we’re violating some inner sanctum.”

“It didn’t bother you the first night we slept in my grandfather’s bed.”

“Yes, it did. Remember? We both sat on the edge of the bed and didn’t move.”

“I thought you were just humoring me.”

“I was. Humoring you is one of the ways I get through the tough moments. I can focus on you and that makes it easier for me.”

“Huh.” I thought about that for a moment. “Like with the smoking. How you were only smoking when I smoked.”

“Sure. Not really the same thing but close enough.”

I tried to figure out if I did something like that. Suddenly I had it. “I guess that’s like why I hardly carry a gun anymore.”


“Ever since we started working together, I hardly ever think about my revolver. I’m not even sure where it is.”

“It’s in the safe in the office at home. With mine. But why?”

“Because you can handle anyone who comes along.”

Carter huffed. “That’s not true.”

“Really?” I asked. “When was the last time you couldn’t?”

He thought for a moment. “Well. OK. I guess you’re right.” He sighed. “When you’re right, Nick, you’re right.”

“You know I like it when you say that.”

I couldn’t see his face because it was turned away from me but I could swear that I felt him grin when I said that.

Very slowly, he lifted up. In the moonlight, I could see the shadow of his head over me. He sat up on his side and put his left hand lightly over my mouth and said, “Shh.”

I knew what was coming, so I started laughing before he could do it.

He giggled as he said, “Nick. Shh.”

I laughed even harder and he started laughing as well. He ran his right index finger across my ribs. As he did so, he made a noise by rolling his tongue to make it sound as if he was playing a xylophone in a cartoon. I burst out laughing with a yelp. Giggling, he fell on me, saying, “Shh!”

After about thirty seconds, someone banged on the bedroom door. I heard Frankie say, “Either let us in to watch or shut the fuck up.”

We both rolled over in the bed laughing and didn’t stop for at least five minutes.

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