Exclusive Excerpt: The Shifting Scion (A Nick Williams Mystery Book 27) by Frank W Butterfield

Excerpt:

“May I help you, gentlemen?” That was a rotund fellow of about 60. He was bald and had a pair of glasses perched on his head and another pair dangling over his chest on a silver chain. We were in a store by the name of The Old Book Shop. I held the lease on the place as I owned the apartment building above it. It was on the north side of Sutter, just a few feet west of Larkin.

Carter asked, “Do you have a copy of The Strength of the Strong by Jack London?”

“Of course.” He sized both of us up for a moment and then looked at me and asked, “Mr. Williams?”

I smiled. “Yes.”

He held out his pudgy hand. It was dry and soft as I shook it. “My name is Irwin Smith and I’m the proprietor. May I say how happy I am to finally meet my landlord?” He sounded sincere but I wasn’t sure.

I nodded. “Nice to meet you.” I gestured towards Carter. “This is—”

“Oh, Mr. Jones needs no introduction.” He offered his hand and reddened slightly when Carter shook with his right and then clasped the man’s hand with his left.

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Smith.”  

Taking a deep breath as if to steady his nerves, the older man said, “The pleasure is all mine.” He looked from Carter to me and then back to Carter. “You both look much more handsome than the newspapers could ever show.” Putting his left hand over his chest, just above the glasses dangling on the silver chain, he said, “I hope you don’t think I’m trying to take advantage of your presence, but I have something you might very well be interested in seeing.” He turned without waiting for either of us to reply and made his way into the back, motioning over his shoulder for us to follow him.

Behind a dark green curtain, we found a young man sitting on a stool, eating an egg salad sandwich while reading a thick book with yellowed pages and bound in dark-brown leather. The sandwich was wrapped in wax paper and he was carefully taking small bites from it. The book was laid out flat on the counter in front of him.

“Arthur!” said Mr. Smith, sounding a little irritated.

“Sorry, Mr. Smith,” said the kid as he quickly wrapped up his sandwich and stuffed it into a knapsack that was resting on the wood floor at the bottom of his stool. Having done that, he stood and realized we were standing there. His mouth suddenly dropped open as he appeared to recognize us.

“Arthur! Please attend to the front.”

The kid closed his mouth, nodded, and then slipped around Carter and was gone.

“I apologize,” said Mr. Smith as he removed the lid from one of a series of wood crates stacked one on another. “Arthur is very good with the books but rather lacks the kind of social skills one would desire in an antique book store. Now, here it is.” He stepped back so we could see what was in the top crate. “Have a look.”

Carter walked over and gasped. “Nick! Look!”

Scooting around him, I peered in. Several volumes of Jack London’s novels were lined up perfectly, held in place by tightly-packed straw and newspapers. The blue leather binding looked brand new. The book titles were printed on the spines in bright gold. I looked over at Mr. Smith. “Are these new?”

He beamed. “Quite to the contrary. When Mr. London was building his magnificent house up in Glen Ellen, a publisher in London approached him and requested permission to print all of his novels and short stories in a calf-leather binding. There were to be one hundred sets. However, the house burned to the ground, Mr. London died not long after, and only one set was ever produced. This is that set.”

Carter gently ran his finger over the spines and asked, “Where did you get them?”

“It’s quite unusual that they even exist. They sat in the publisher’s storage, in these very crates, for the longest time. The publisher went into receivership in 1935 and this was one of their assets, although no one in England thought much of an American author like Jack London.” He sniffed. “They didn’t sell at auction and the firm who was handling the disposition of assets just held onto them. Strangely, during the Blitz, one half of their building was destroyed, but since these were in the half that wasn’t touched, they were perfectly fine.” He smiled. “About six months ago, I received a letter from a gentleman at that firm, asking if I would be willing to take them on consignment, being an antique bookseller in Jack London’s hometown. I agreed, thinking of several good customers who might be interested. The set arrived on Monday. I haven’t made any calls so far. Something told me to wait. So, then, you both walk in, asking for one of the very books that the set contains. And, here we are…” He sighed and rested both of his hands on his belly, under the dangling glasses.

“How much?” I asked.

He leaned in towards the stack of crates and put on the pair of glasses that had been on his head. “Well, that is rather a difficult question to answer. You see—”

“Ten grand,” said Carter.

The man gasped. “Well… I don’t…” He took out his handkerchief and began to wipe his face.

Carter pulled out his wallet, asking, “Will you take a check?”

“Oh, my…” The man’s eyes rolled into the back of his head as he slid down to the floor faster than Carter could catch him. 

Blurb:

Thursday, October 18, 1962

Nick is in trouble. He’s obstructing justice and might possibly be an accessory to murder, after the fact. The cops are on to him and his lawyer is very concerned.

How did this happen?

It’s all because Sam Halverson, a close friend and an operative for WilliamsJones Security, has murdered a man and is on his way to Mexico to hide out from the law.

At Nick’s instruction… Oh, boy!

Meanwhile, Nick’s latest attempt at matchmaking appears to be falling apart. It seemed like such a perfect pairing but, apparently, the prospective couple won’t be living happily ever after.

Will justice (and love) prevail?

Find out in this, the second book in a three-part story arc (beginning with The Derelict Dad), that’s all about what happens when a father, who has abandoned his family to find his fortune, finally has to come to terms with his past.

More about author Frank W. Butterfield:

Frank W. Butterfield is the Amazon best-selling author of over 20 books and counting in the Nick Williams Mystery series, stories about Nick & Carter, a private dick and a fireman who live and love in San Francisco.

To learn more about Frank W. Butterfield’s novels, Nick & Carter and their ongoing adventures, click on the link for his website. https://www.frankwbutterfield.com/


Exclusive Excerpt: The Leaping Lord (a Nick Williams Mystery; Book 19) by Frank W. Butterfield

Excerpt:

As we walked through the gardens, we came around a bend. Suddenly the sea was stretched out in full view. Carter took a deep breath and asked, “Never gets old, does it?”

“Nope. As much as I miss sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge, this view always gets to me.”

Carter rested his hand on my shoulder for a long moment. It was a Tuesday afternoon. There was no one around. I was tempted to turn and kiss him, but something told me not to. Moving his hand to my neck, Carter led me to a bench that was a prime spot for gazing out over the water.

We both sat. I scooted a little closer to him than I normally would in public. I had a strong desire to be held in his arms but I knew we would have to wait until we got home where we had our own private view.

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We sat there, neither speaking, for several minutes. I was about to nod off when I heard someone off in the distance. Carter, who had put his hand on my knee, removed it and scooted away an inch or two.

I could hear what sounded like four or five people moving in our direction. No one was talking but they weren’t trying to be stealthy. It sounded like they were walking through the woods that bordered the grassy areas.

As I was about to turn and see who it was, I heard an oddly familiar female voice ask, “Quite a view, isn’t it?”

I heard Carter gasp as I turned to look. We both jumped to our feet. I tried not to gape. She was more beautiful in person than she’d ever been on the screen. My first thought was that motherhood agreed with her. She looked softer and less angular than in the movies.

She was wearing a blue dress that ended just below her knees. Over that, she sported a light blue coat whose cuffs ended in the middle of her forearms. Small white gloves and a strand of pearls completed the look. Her blonde hair was perfectly held in place under a small periwinkle hat pinned in place. She appeared very comfortable and beautiful, all at the same time.

She smiled at me and tilted her blonde head. Offering her gloved hand, she asked, “Mr. Williams?”

I shook and nodded. “Yes, Your…” I didn’t know the word.

“Serene Highness,” prompted Carter.

She nodded and offered her hand to him. “Mr. Jones?”

He gently shook and bowed slightly. “Yes, Your Serene Highness.”

Once that was done, she looked out at the water below. “I’m always a bit surprised every morning when I see that blue water.” Turning to me, she said, “I’m sure you must feel the same.”

I nodded, remembering to breathe, and quoted Carter, unable to think of anything else. “It never gets old.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

We stood there for what seemed like a long moment. Finally, Carter asked, “How is Princess Caroline?”

She beamed at the name of her daughter. “Very well, thank you. She’s growing so fast. I can’t believe it sometimes. She’ll be seven months old in a week.”

We both nodded but neither of us replied. Finally, I came to my senses and asked, “Is there something we can help you with, Your Serene Highness?”

She laughed. “Please, when we’re alone, do call me Grace.”

I smiled. “I’m Nick and that’s Carter.”

Blurb – The Leaping Lord by Frank W. Butterfield: 

Tuesday, August 13, 1957 Life is good. Nick and Carter are living on the French Riviera, having breakfast by the pool every morning with a view of the Mediterranean, and living a quiet life after a busy month. The grand re-opening of Nick’s latest acquisition, l’Hôtel Beau Rivage, the hottest spot in Nice, has gone off without a hitch. And, best of all, Nick has recovered nicely after taking a bullet in his shoulder. But then, on the same day, they have not one, but two unexpected encounters with the aristocracy. A day of driving down the coast leads to an amiable but unusual request from the former Grace Kelly, now Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco. Nick is suspicious of the favor she’s asked but he’s also smitten with the gorgeous blonde who lives in the Prince’s Palace just a few miles down the coast. Carter, of course, can’t help but tease Nick about losing his heart to movie-star royalty. Later that evening, Nick and Carter are invited to an impromptu dinner with Her Grace, the Duchess of Boston. She happens to be the mother of the British spy who has been helping Nick and Carter stay out of trouble for the past couple of years. Her son, Lord Gerald Whitcombe, left London for Nice back in July but has since disappeared. The duchess is convinced that the two of them are the only ones who can find him. What follows is a race against time that leads Nick and Carter back to Paris where they find that things are not exactly how they left them.

Blurb:

Tuesday, August 13, 1957

Life is good. Nick and Carter are living on the French Riviera, having breakfast by the pool every morning with a view of the Mediterranean, and living a quiet life after a busy month. The grand re-opening of Nick’s latest acquisition, l’Hôtel Beau Rivage, the hottest spot in Nice, has gone off without a hitch. And, best of all, Nick has recovered nicely after taking a bullet in his shoulder.

But then, on the same day, they have not one, but two unexpected encounters with the aristocracy.

A day of driving down the coast leads to an amiable but unusual request from the former Grace Kelly, now Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco. Nick is suspicious of the favor she’s asked but he’s also smitten with the gorgeous blonde who lives in the Prince’s Palace just a few miles down the coast. Carter, of course, can’t help but tease Nick about losing his heart to movie-star royalty.

Later that evening, Nick and Carter are invited to an impromptu dinner with Her Grace, the Duchess of Boston. She happens to be the mother of the British spy who has been helping Nick and Carter stay out of trouble for the past couple of years. Her son, Lord Gerald Whitcombe, left London for Nice back in July but has since disappeared. The duchess is convinced that the two of them are the only ones who can find him.

What follows is a race against time that leads Nick and Carter back to Paris where they find that things are not exactly how they left them.

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Excerpt & FREE Drawing! The Adroit Alien (A Nick Williams Mystery Book 18) by Frank W. Butterfield

Exclusive Excerpt:

“I bet you’re really proud of yourself, aren’t you?” That was Carter. We were huddled together in our new bed.
Antoine had found the shutters for our bedroom out by the stables. He had put them all in place, although, to open them the next morning, we would have to take them down by hand.
We’d all had dinner a few blocks away at the same place where we’d had lunch. It was good, solid fare, and they were willing to cook Carter’s steak to well-done. While we were eating, Jake had suddenly looked up from his plate and asked, “What about firewood?” Carter had groaned. We hadn’t bought any. Not that we knew where to get any.
On that note, the kids had decided to go back to the hotel for the night. They’d followed in a second cab when Antoine and Jake had taken off from the restaurant after we were finished eating.
For our part, Carter and I had walked back to the house. It was cold outside and, somehow, when we got home, it was even colder inside the house.
I’d been telling him about getting Jacques and Greg together when he’d made that comment. “Yeah. Can you believe it’s been seven years?”
Carter pulled me in closer. “You don’t seem to generate any body heat,” he grumbled. “And you smell.”
I put my lips on his and murmured, “This was your idea.”
He sighed. “I know.”
“Maybe if we fooled around a little?”
He began to run his hand up and down my back, but that was as far as he went. I tried to lift my hand up so I could hug his neck, but he kept me pinned in place. “Hey!”
“We need to talk about your matchmaking.”
“We do?”
“Yes. You can’t just move to Paris and start—”
“Why not?”
He sighed, blowing slightly sour air in my face. Neither of us had brushed. At least his breath was warm. “I don’t know. I thought I would feel better once we got here. But I’m more irritated than ever.” He stopped talking.
Feeling a knot forming in my stomach, I said, “And I’m irritating you, aren’t I?”
“Well—”
“Just tell me.”
“Yeah. You are. You left us here to do all the work while you ran around town spending money and flirting with chauffeurs and doing your matchmaking thing.”
I was quiet. He was being ridiculous. He’d wanted me to do all that, handsome chauffeurs notwithstanding. But I didn’t want to rub it in his face.
“Stop that, Nick.”
“What?”
“Being quiet.”
I had a sudden thought. “You know what?”
He squirmed on the bed. “What?”
“I think it’s been too long since we’ve, you know…”
Carter didn’t reply to that. I knew I was right. I let him stew for a little while in whatever thoughts he was having. Finally, I said, “We haven’t really been alone in a while. At least three weeks.” He started breathing a little heavier. I decided to push things a little further. “You like those boots Alexander was wearing as much as I do.”
He slapped me hard on the ass, which hurt but not much. “You’re right.”
“It really gets to you sometimes, doesn’t it?” I was teasing him and probably shouldn’t have.
He squeezed me as hard as he ever had. I had a mildly panicked thought that he was going to explode or crush me, one or the other. “I can’t talk about this, Nick.”
“Why not? We’re alone.”
He was still breathing hard. “I know, but my mind gets all jumbled when I get like this.”
“I know. That’s part of what I like about it when we do it.”
“I wish we could get warm and throw all these covers off the bed so I can…” He sighed. “You know.”
“I know.” I kissed him on the lips. In reply, he pushed his tongue into my mouth, hard.

Blurb:
Monday, January 2, 1956
Nick and Carter have arrived safely in Paris and were even greeted at the airport by a minor government official and a small detachment of the famous Republican Guard.

After taking a week to recover from their Christmas adventures in Vermont, they’re ready to move into their new house over in the 4th Arrondissement.

It takes three cabs to get the whole gang over there from their hotel and, as they stand on the sidewalk outside, none of them can quite believe what they find: a crumbling building, a trash-filled courtyard, several broken windows, and, as Nick tentatively pushes the front door open, the stench of a rotting corpse.

The police know that none of them could possibly have committed the crime but what about the mysterious Madame Marika, who has suddenly disappeared? Is she back behind the Iron Curtain? Or has she too been murdered?

The entire household gets involved in solving the mystery, dashing around the city that is their new home, and discovering, in the end, the bonds of love and friendship they have brought with them from San Francisco, across the Atlantic Ocean, and to La Ville-Lumière—Paris: The City of Light.

And that’s only the beginning…

Blurb:

Monday, January 2, 1956

Nick and Carter have arrived safely in Paris and were even greeted at the airport by a minor government official and a small detachment of the famous Republican Guard.

After taking a week to recover from their Christmas adventures in Vermont, they’re ready to move into their new house over in the 4th Arrondissement.

It takes three cabs to get the whole gang over there from their hotel and, as they stand on the sidewalk outside, none of them can quite believe what they find: a crumbling building, a trash-filled courtyard, several broken windows, and, as Nick tentatively pushes the front door open, the stench of a rotting corpse.

The police know that none of them could possibly have committed the crime but what about the mysterious Madame Marika, who has suddenly disappeared? Is she back behind the Iron Curtain? Or has she too been murdered?

The entire household gets involved in solving the mystery, dashing around the city that is their new home, and discovering, in the end, the bonds of love and friendship they have brought with them from San Francisco, across the Atlantic Ocean, and to La Ville-Lumière—Paris: The City of Light.

And that’s only the beginning…

Learn about Other Titles be Frank W. Butterfield:http://frankwbutterfield.com/books

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Exclusive Excerpt: A Happy Holiday (A Nick Williams Mystery Book 17) by Frank W. Butterfield

Blurb:

Monday, December 19, 1955

It’s early in the morning and Carter is worried that he and Nick won’t be warm enough for their Christmas trip to Vermont.

Nick, for his part, is wondering if they will ever be able to return to the big pile of rocks he’s finally come to love. An exile in France isn’t the worst thing in the world but still…

But before they can get much more than halfway from San Francisco to Vermont, they discover that the mob is after them and is on their tails, chasing them across the country as they take planes, trains, and automobiles.

They finally get to Vermont, all covered in freshly-fallen white snow, and begin to wonder if it will be their last Christmas, after all.

Excerpt:

“Nick.”

I opened my eyes. The room was dark but there was a bit of street light coming in around the edges of the curtains. Carter was standing next to the bed, looking down at me with a grin.

“Time to get up.”

I groaned. “I don’t wanna.”

“I know, son. You can sleep in the car.”

With that, he pulled back the covers. The room was chilly and I just wanted to go back to sleep.

“Come on,” he said, pulling on my arm.

I stood up and hugged him. “This is one of those times when I wish we were there already.”

“Where?” he asked as he ran his hands over the back of my head.

“Paris.”

He didn’t say anything for a while. As we stood there in the dark, I could feel myself getting sleepy again.

Finally, he said, “We could take a plane from here to New York. We don’t have to go to Vermont.”

“Is that what you want?”

“No. I wanna have Christmas with all our family.”

“Even Roger?”

He laughed. “Yes, even Roger. I changed my mind about him at dinner last night.”

I sighed. “Me, too. I love him. And John, too.”

“It would break my mama’s heart if you weren’t there for Christmas.”

I sighed again. “She loves you, too.”

“Yeah.” He didn’t sound convinced.

 

Exclusive Excerpt: The Pitiful Player by Frank W Butterfield (A Nick Williams Mystery Book 14)

Kindle: http://amzn.to/2eT0hX5

Blurb:

Friday, July 8, 1955

Ben White, a movie producer working on Nick’s dime, is ready to show off what he’s been up to, so Nick and Carter head to Hollywood to see what there is to see and, to be polite, it stinks.

Ben’s director has an idea and he says it’s gonna make Nick even richer than he already is.

But, before they can start the cameras rolling, leading man William Fraser is found murdered at the lavish Beverly Hills mansion of seductive silent screen star Juan Zane. Carlo Martinelli, Ben’s lover, is arrested and charged with murder even though everyone in town knows he’s innocent, including the District Attorney.

Meanwhile, the Beverly Hills Police Chief makes sure that Nick knows that his kind of help isn’t wanted in the posh village, home to some of Hollywood’s most famous stars. The chief is running a good, clean, wholesome town, after all.

From Muscle Beach to Mulholland Drive, Nick and Carter begin to piece together the clues that point to who did it and why. Somehow they manage to do so in the sweltering heat and noxious smog of the Southland.

In the end, however, will anyone be brought to justice? It’s Hollywood, so you’ll have to wait for the final reel to find out.

Excerpt:

“Nick, wake up.”

I opened my eyes. I could see a shadow hovering above me. I reached up and felt Carter’s stubble-covered face. “What?”

“Ben just called. Greg and Micky got into a fight. Greg broke Micky’s nose and dislocated his shoulder. They’re all at the hospital. Ben wants us to come down.” He reached down and kissed me. “What were you dreaming about?”

I sighed. “Something about Liz and dessert.”

“Liz who? Liz Taylor? Are you dreaming about Hollywood?”

I laughed as he kissed me again. “No. Much bigger. Liz as in Queen Elizabeth.”

Carter nibbled on my left ear. He whispered, “She doesn’t look like a Liz. She looks like a Betty.”

I put my arms around his neck. “We need to get up. Ben needs us.”

Carter sighed and said, “I know.” He kissed my forehead.

“Why didn’t I hear the phone?”

“I was already awake when it rang.”

“You were?”

“Yes. That kid was in the swimming pool. I heard him splashing around. Buck naked, too.”

I laughed. “You know you’re not his type, right?”

Carter kissed my lips. “You saw that, huh?”

“You bet. I saw you running your eyes over his body. And I know why.”

“Why?” asked Carter as he ran his right hand along my face.

“He’s not the one you have a crush on. It’s his motorcycle.”

Carter laughed. “You’re right, Nick. When you’re right, you’re right.”

“Why haven’t you bought one since we were in Georgia?” He’d had an Indian motorcycle while we were on a case, investigating his father’s murder, in Albany, Georgia, back in the summer of ’53.

“It’s one thing to run around on a motorcycle in the backwoods of Georgia. It’s a whole other thing to go up and down California Street. Every time I’ve thought about it, all I can imagine myself doing is driving around and around Huntington Park. That would get boring after a while.”

“It’s mostly flat around here.”

“It’s not just the hills. It’s also the traffic.”

“We have to go, Carter.”

“I know,” he sighed. “Just five more minutes. They’ll wait.”

I said, “Fine,” and pulled him down on me.

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

Blurb:

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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Excerpt:
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.”

“Heavyweight?”

“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.”

“What?”

“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.