Love You To Death (Stan Kraychik Mystery Book 2) by Grant Michaels

Excerpt from the Foreword by Frank W. Butterfield

When I came across Grant Michaels’s first novel, A Body to Dye For, at Now Voyager in Provincetown, I plunked down my nine bucks and snatched it right up. I took it back to my little room above the guest house on Commercial Street where I worked for $75 a week, plus room and board, and, with a bag full of salt-water taffy, devoured it and the candy in one long, lazy October afternoon.

Excerpt of Love You to Death

I sat for a long time with my eyes closed, letting the white noise of the surf lull me into a state of alpha consciousness. Awake in a dream, I sensed someone approaching me, and I happily assumed it was my lively subconscious, once again beckoning my incubus. However, rather than ravish me as usual, my loving other-self decided to speak to me this time.

“Did you like the chocolate?” he asked, with a French accent.

I opened my eyes and turned my head. The sun blinded me for a moment, but I could still make out Rafik, in all his tall, handsome glory. He was wearing a grey warm-up suit, without an overcoat or jacket. The wind caused the soft flannel to hug his body and reveal a slender, well-formed physique, much like a dancer’s.

“Hi,” I said, perhaps too enthusiastically. “I figured you had sent it.”

“You did not like?” His eyelids drooped sadly.

“I took it to the police to have it checked for poison.”

“Ah, non, I will not poison you.” Then, with an inviting smile, he asked, “You are coming to see me?”

“I came to see Prentiss Kingsley. I’m curious why you’re here though.”

“I am here with Dunny.”

“And Mr. Kingsley? Is he here too?”

With a wink Rafik shook his head no. What a charmer! It could be easy

to say yes to any demand of his.

I began, “I just wanted to, uh …” Control your yapper, Stanislav. Don’t

tell this gorgeous man you came here to warn Prentiss Kingsley that someone is trying to kill him. “I wanted to plan a little surprise for Liz and Danny, so I thought Prentiss could help me with it. But don’t tell Dan, okay?”

“We have secret then?”

“Yeah, that’s right. A secret.”

“So maybe we can have one more secret?” he asked with a sly look.

“What do you mean?”

“You like to go to bed?” He pushed his right hand up under his sweatshirt, lifting it slightly so that I could watch him caress his taut belly and finger the short, black hair there. Damn! Why was this guy so interested in me, first at the party, now out here by the ocean?

“What about Danny?” I asked.

“Dunny? He’s not home.”

“But aren’t you two …?”

Rafik shook his head no. “We are not lovers anymore.

“I thought you said you were here with him?

“I am with him, but not together.”

“Then why are you here?”

Rafik grinned self-contentedly. “Mr. Kingsley invite me.

“But you just said he’s not here,” I said, trying to get his story straight.

“Yes, he is not. I work at his company, driving the truck, you know?”

“Yes, I know, but does that qualify you to stay at his summer place, in the middle of winter?”

“Oh, sure.” His hand pushed the jacket up further to show a well-formed pectoral. “So you want to go inside?”

“I would like to get warm.”

“I have good idea,” he said, and suddenly peeled off his sweatshirt. His muscular chest had a neatly trimmed, fan-shaped mat of coarse hair, clipped short and bristly. The cold air set it all on end, and the rest of his skin also went bumpy in the breeze. His nipples greeted the frigid air with a perky salute through the dark hair. “Come,” he said, and undid his sweatpants as well. He jogged away from me, then stopped momentarily to pull off the sweatpants, leaving only his robin’s-egg-blue jockstrap. I was right. He did look like a dancer, and he moved like one too, as though this were all a familiar sequence of steps rehearsed and performed many times before. But I’ll confess, his furry limbs sure were appealing against the patchy snow. He turned toward me and beckoned. “We go to bed now.” He ran toward the solarium attached to the back of the big house.

Being a lonely pile of flesh and bones, I’d be a fool to pass up a chance like that. I got up from the bench and headed toward the house, picking up Rafik’s discarded clothing along the way— already the wife. As I got near the house, Dan Doherty emerged from the pathway that led around from the front of the house.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he demanded. Then he saw Rafik’s near-naked body entering the solarium, while I stood there holding his clothes. Dan frowned and said, “Figures you’d get your way with him, Vannos.”

“Uuuuhhhh …”

“Don’t worry,” he said, irritated but resigned. “I’m used to it. He’s good for nothing.” Dan watched Rafik waving energetically from inside the solarium. “I take that back. Rafik is certainly good for one thing.”

“Danny, I didn’t come here to have sex with him. I came to talk to Prentiss and you. I even tried to find you at your place last night. I’ve got some unpleasant news, I’m afraid.”

“Vannos, you can cut the crap. You don’t need an excuse to have sex with Rafik. Really, it’s ‘anything goes’ out here in the ’burbs.”

“I’m not making excuses, Danny. And you can call me Stan now. Vannos is okay in the shop, but this has nothing to do with the shop.”

His face relaxed slightly. “You mean it, don’t you?” he said with less  anger in his voice. “You’re serious.”

“Yes, this is serious.”

“We’d better go inside then.”

We walked by the solarium. Rafik stood within, exposed and appealing in his glass cage. Cripes, I’d just about got my sludgy juices moving again, and yet again I had to interrupt the flow. I don’t know why my parents didn’t  just name me Frustration.

Inside the house Dan removed his down-filled parka and hung it in a fastidiously organized closet. “Take your coat off, get comfortable,” he said. I dropped my jacket on a chair, but Danny picked it up and hung it—arranged it—alongside his in the closet—ever the designer. Then he led me into a large, bright room with numerous bay windows, complete with window seats and chintz-covered cushions, all facing out onto the bluff and the ocean beyond. The fireplace was blazing, even though it was mid-afternoon.

Through one of the front windows I saw Danny’s car, easily identified by the vanity plates: D D D E S I G N .

Danny flopped himself onto one of the sofas. I sat in a high-armed chair that enveloped me luxuriously as the down-filled cushions wheezed out their air. “Is Prentiss here?” I asked.

“No,” he said, reclining and stretching himself out provocatively. I hoped it wasn’t for my benefit.

“Danny, it’s important that you both hear this. Will you promise to tell him?”

“Depends.” His eyes seemed to be flirting, and I soon recognized a behavior pattern that I’d often seen with other couples: Love my spouse, love me.

I said, “Depends isn’t good enough, Danny. I found out something about the poisoned chocolate that killed that man the other night.”

“The one Laurett Cole gave to her boyfriend?

“That’s the point. It was a mistake. The truffle that killed that guy was intended for Prentiss Kingsley.”

Blurb:

A Stan Kraychik Mystery, Book 2 — Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and everyone has a sweetheart, except Stan Kraychik, Boston’s sassiest hairdresser. Ever hopeful of meeting Mr. Right, Stan attends a gala reception that culminates in a death by poisoning, and romantic problems take a back seat to murder. Then Boston police arrest Stan’s friend Laurett Cole, who leaves her four-year-old son in Stan’s care. In his quest to free Laurett from suspicion and himself from his ill-mannered ward, Stan finds himself exploring the secrets of a revered Boston institution, the Gladys Gardner Chocolate Company. There, along with the sweet edibles, he finds an assortment of not-so-delectable murder.

A Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in 1993, this edition includes a new 2019 foreword by Frank W. Butterfield.

Buy Links:

Kindle and KU: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Death-Stan-Kraychik-Mystery-ebook/dp/B07WYMNGK2

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