Exclusive Excerpt: Gay Noir (three noir mysteries with a gay twist) by Olivier Bosman

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT:

Mrs Skinner rushed into my office in her hat and furs, pulled up a chair and sat down at my desk. “Have you got the pictures?” she said.

“Well, good morning to you, Mrs Skinner,” I responded.

“Never mind all that!” she snapped back. “Have you got the pictures?” She took off her hat and fur and slammed them on my desk.

“Have you got the money?”

“Pictures first!”

I shook my head. “I need to know that you have the money before I show you the pictures.”

She looked at me and frowned. She grabbed her handbag and rummaged in it for her chequebook.

“How much was it again?” she asked, opening her chequebook and taking a pen out of her bag.

“Four hundred pounds,” I said. “And I want cash.”

She looked up, surprised. “You said three hundred and fifty.”

“The price has gone up.”

“Why?”

“Turns out there’s a bit more to your husband’s affair than meets the eye.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you have the cash or not?”

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Mrs Skinner replaced her chequebook and pen in her bag, took out her purse and started counting the money in it. “I have three hundred and fifty pounds,” she said, “as that’s what we agreed on. I can owe you the rest.”

“Show me.”

She rolled her eyes in irritation, but she eventually took the notes out of her purse and laid them on the desk.

“Are you happy now, Mr Stone?” she said. “Do you think you can show me the pictures now?”

“I am, and I can.”  I opened the desk drawer and retrieve the pictures. “I’ll show you the pictures now,” I said, opening the brown envelope, “but I should warn you, it’s not a pretty sight.”

“Just get on with it.”

I placed the pictures on the desk one by one and closely watched her face as I did so. It was rigid and emotionless.

“What’s this?” she said after I had placed the final picture on the desk. She was looking at me, frowning with confusion.

“That’s your husband,” I said.

“Who is that other person with him?”

“That is the man he’s been having an affair with.”

“That is not a man!”

“I think you’ll find he is.” I pointed at a certain part of Lenny’s anatomy.

“What are you suggesting?”

“I’m not suggesting anything.”

“Are you suggesting that my husband is a homosexual?”

“I’m not suggesting anything, Mrs Skinner. I let the pictures do the speaking.” I picked up the photo of Skinner eagerly swallowing Lenny’s cock and placed it on top of the other ones.

“My husband is not a homosexual!” she said, jumping up from her chair. “He is the son of an Anglican priest! That picture is a fake! Where is the man’s head?”

“I cut his head off, Mrs Skinner. There’s no need for you to know who the man is.”

“I’m not paying for those pictures! They are not what I asked for!”

“That’s fine. Then I won’t give them to you.” I picked up the photos, slipped them back in the envelope and locked the envelope in my drawer.

Mrs Skinner remained standing over my desk. Her body trembled with rage and her face began to contort. Finally, the emotion became too much for her and she burst into tears. She sat back down and buried her head in her hands. I admit I did feel a tinge of pity for her. I pulled the handkerchief out of my breast pocket and handed it to her.

“Thank you,” she said softly and began drying her tears. “This is so humiliating! I should never have married him. My father warned me not to marry outside my faith. We’re Catholics. This would never have happened if I had married a Catholic.”

I didn’t say anything.

“You will have to burn the pictures,” she said. “No one must see what I’ve seen.”

“You can burn them yourself if you pay for them.”

“There!” She threw the bank notes at me. “There’s your cursed money!”

“What about the other fifty pounds you still owe me?”

“I’ll come back with it another day.”

“How can I be sure?”

She looked at me indignantly. “I think you can trust me, Mr Stone.”

“I don’t trust anyone.”

“Well, what do you want me to do?”

I looked at her earrings. “Are those real pearls?”

“My pearls?” She put her hands to her earrings and stared at me with shock. “Are you serious? You want my pearls? Don’t you think I’ve been humiliated enough?”

“Hey, lady, I’ve got a business to run here.”

She took off her earrings and flung them at me. “Have the blessed pearls, you hard-hearted swine!”

I picked up the earrings and put them in my pocket. Then I opened the drawer, took out the envelope and handed it to her. She yanked it out of my hands, picked up her hat and fur and jumped out of her chair. “I hope I never see you again!” She marched out of the office.

“It was a pleasure doing business with you, Mrs Skinner,” I called after her, but she didn’t hear me.

BLURB:
Inspired by the pulp fiction novels of the 1940’s and 50’s, the novellas in this anthology emulate the dark, thrilling, sensational and taboo breaking stories of the post war era and gives them a gay twist.
The Honeytrap

1950’s London. Felix Stone is an openly gay P.I. He is approached by a mysterious woman who pays him to shadow her husband. What at first seems to be a run of the mill adultery case, soon turns out to be much more serious. When the people involved in the case suddenly start dying around him, Felix finds himself embroiled in the world of cold war espionage and his own life is put in danger.

The Deluded

1949. The East End of London is still recovering from the blitz. Fitzgerald O’Sullivan is a young man with romantic notions of living like an impoverished writer. In an attempt to escape his past, he abandons his life of privilege and rents a room in the East End. There he meets Roy Parker, a chirpy Cockney with a working-class charm. Roy asks Fitz to write a story about how he saved the lives of two Jewish ladies during the war. What follows is a far-fetched tale filled with lies and exaggerations. This is is a noir thriller where nothing is what it seems. A dark tale of love, bitterness and vengeance set in the chaotic aftermath of the Second World War

Estranged

1950´s L.A. Sixteen year old Henry Blomqvist is the son of an aspiring actress and stepson of a millionaire businessman. He is an embarrasement to his parents, a useless layabout who is constantly getting arrested for cruising the parks. But his vices pale in comparison with the dark secrets in his parents´ lives. The kidnapping of Henry´s stepfather triggers a series of events which expose the skeletons in his parents´ closets and which finally give Henry the chance to step up to the mark and show what he´s really made of.

ebook link: (Releasing December 4th, 2018 via Amazon & FREE via Kindle Unlimited)

Paperback link: (Currently Available)

Olivier Bosman’s Bio: 

click on image for website

Born to Dutch parents and raised in Colombia and England, I am a rootless wanderer with itchy feet. I’ve spent the last few years living and working in The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sudan and Bulgaria, but I have every confidence that I will now finally be able to settle down among the olive groves of Andalucia.

I am an avid reader and film fan (in fact, my study is overflowing with my various dvd collections!)

I did an MA in creative writing for film and television at the University of Sheffield.  After a failed attempt at making a carreer as a screenwriter, I turned to the theater and wrote and produced a play called ´Death Takes a Lover´ (which has since been turned into the first D.S.Billings Victorian Mystery). The play was performed on the London Fringe to great critical acclaim.

​Currently living in Spain where I make ends meet by teaching English .

Exclusive Excerpt: Pretty Pretty Boys by Gregory Ashe (Hazard & Somerset #1)

Blurb:

After Emery Hazard loses his job as a detective in Saint Louis, he heads back to his hometown–and to the local police force there. Home, though, brings no happy memories, and the ghosts of old pain are very much alive in Wahredua. Hazard’s new partner, John-Henry Somerset, had been one of the worst tormentors, and Hazard still wonders what Somerset’s role was in the death of Jeff Langham, Hazard’s first boyfriend.

Author Gregory Ashe

When a severely burned body is discovered, Hazard finds himself drawn deeper into the case than he expects. Determining the identity of the dead man proves impossible, and solving the murder grows more and more unlikely. But as the city’s only gay police officer, Hazard is placed at the center of a growing battle between powerful political forces. To his surprise, Hazard finds an unlikely ally in his partner, the former bully. And as they spend more time together, something starts to happen between them, something that Hazard can’t–and doesn’t want–to explain.

The discovery of a second mutilated corpse, though, reveals clues that the two murders are linked, and as Hazard gets closer to answers, he uncovers a conspiracy of murder and betrayal that goes deeper–and closer to home–than he could ever expect.

Exclusive Excerpt:

Chapter 3

October 24

Monday

9:12am

They drove in a tan Impala with cloth seats and a pine-scented air freshener glued to the central vent. Neither man spoke, and Hazard took advantage of the silence to reorient himself. He’d lost his cool as soon as Somers had opened his mouth. No, it was worse than that. He’d lost control. It was like he’d been outside his head, watching, unable to stop as he got angrier and angrier. Every word Somers had said had been like dumping gasoline on a house fire.

And it didn’t help that Somers was so breezy. Everything he did and said came off cool, collected, composed, like he didn’t have a fuck to give for anything or anyone. In spite of his determination not to look, Hazard studied the man. John-Henry Somerset hadn’t changed. Sure, his blond hair was shorter and crisply styled, and he’d added on a few inches of lean muscle. But the major things hadn’t changed. He still had his preppy good looks: his smooth, golden tan, his eyes like tide pools, jaw cut sharp as a straight razor. He still had that way of walking, his shoulders back and his head up, like he owned this city and the next one over and he expected everyone to know it. Perfect—the word popped into Hazard’s head. John-Henry was still so goddamn perfect.

Somers shifted, as though sensing Hazard’s gaze, and adjusted his grip on the steering wheel. His cuff slid back, exposing a stretch of darkly-inked skin. Well, Hazard thought. That was very interesting. The golden boy had a tattoo; maybe John-Henry had changed a little.

“The guy we’re going to see, he’s a college student. His name is Rosendo, I think. I’ve got it written down. He reported vandalism this morning, and a patrol car went past. They passed it up to us.”

“Because it has to do with what? This PR crap?”

With a small shrug, Somers said, “Kind of. There’s been a lot of this going around.”

“Vandalism? That’s what we deal with?”

“This is about the most interesting thing we’ve had all year. And it’s not just vandalism. It’s a hate crime or the next thing to it. LGBT community is getting targeted for the most part, although it spills over.”

“And I’m the band-aid?”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“The fuck it isn’t. What were they going to do? Hire me, parade me around town, show everybody they were a progressive department and then—what? Shove me in a corner to do paperwork?”

Somers didn’t answer.

After a moment, Hazard laughed. “The LGBT community, huh? What? You guys finally have enough queers around here to throw a stick at? Guess things change.”

“They—there’s always been a community here. You know, because of the college. But you’re right: things have changed.”

The way Somers said it, with that earnest tone and Boy Scout look, made it clear what he meant: he meant that he’d changed, that Wahredua had changed, that the world had changed. That was a nice dish of bull crap, as far as Hazard was concerned.

“Wroxall?” Hazard said. “That’s like two classrooms and a cafeteria.”

“Maybe twenty years ago. They’ve grown. A lot. Enrollment is around fifteen thousand.”

“Fifteen thousand? You’re joking.”

“No. And Wahredua had to grow too. The city’s pushing ninety thousand. We’re officially a city, you know, not a town anymore. And the college has brought the blue vote. All the old hippies, organic farmers, musicians, deadheads. It’s different.”

Hazard grunted; he’d believe it when he saw it. “Tell me about Cravens.”

“She’s decent. She’s a politician, but only because that’s her job. She’ll stick by you, for the most part. She bakes some good cupcakes and brings them on Fridays.”

“What’d you have to say to get her to hire me?”

“She wanted to hire you. I didn’t have to say anything.”

“What’d you say?”

“She thought you’d be good as the department’s face. You know: brooding detective, great shoulders, killer ass. You could—”

Hazard felt that same old house-fire burning deep inside him. “What’d you say?”

“It was just a joke. C’mon, lighten up.”

“Jesus, you really are the same, aren’t you? All right. Let’s get it all out on the table. Yeah, I’m gay. I like to fuck guys. Is that clear?”

Somers was shaking his head, his eyes fixed on the road.

“I asked you a question.”

“Yeah.”

“All right. You think it’s funny or weird or gross. Fine. You want to give me shit about it. Fine. You want to make my life hell. Fine. I’m not the kid you used to push around. I’ve done this whole pony show before. If you think you’ve got something that the guys in St. Louis didn’t already try, you’ve got another thing coming. It didn’t work for them, and it sure as hell isn’t going to work for you. I’m not going—”

“Jesus Christ,” Somers growled, his cool snapping for the first time since Hazard had seen him. Somers jerked the wheel to the right, and the tires rumbled against the curb. They pulled to the end of the block, and Somers unbuckled his seatbelt. “Get out of the car. Right now.”

Without waiting for a reply, Somers kicked his door open and walked to the sidewalk.

Hazard only hesitated a moment. He had his .38, and if it came to that, he wouldn’t hesitate to put a bullet in John-Henry’s perfect golden tan. But the best odds were that Somers was going to try to slug him. Somers was right-handed. He had muscle, but lean, more like a runner—he didn’t have Hazard’s bulk. Hazard knew the drill. He’d move into the punch, take it on his shoulder or arm instead of on his jaw, and then he’d land one that would knock Somers out of the county.

When Hazard got to the sidewalk, though, Somers just shrugged out of his jacket, folded it, and held it out to Hazard.

Hazard stared at the coat and raised an eyebrow.

“Hold it for me,” Somers insisted. “And then why don’t you break my jaw or my nose or whatever the fuck you’re determined to do, and then we can get on with our day.”

Hazard hesitated again. Was this a fake-out? Would he swing as soon as Hazard reached for the jacket?

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“For God’s sake,” Somers grumbled. He tossed the jacket on the ground and took a step forward, tilting his head back and presenting his jaw. “I fucked up in high school. I get it. This is your chance.”

“Yeah, and get myself out of a job on the first day. I’m not that stupid.”

“You want to record me? You want this taped? I’ll say whatever you want me to say. You’ve got my permission to take off my fucking head, so go on and do it. I fucked up, so let’s make it right.”

The heat of the day, even this early, prickled on Hazard’s neck; sweat dampened his armpits and the small of his back. Somehow, again, Somers had thrown him off balance, and Hazard couldn’t seem to get his feet planted.

Somers took another step forward. They were close enough now that Hazard could feel the heat pouring off Somers, could smell the clean scent of Somers’s deodorant, could see the nearly invisible blond stubble on Somers’s jaw.

“Are you going to do it or not? Either you hit me right now, as hard as you want, as much as you want, and you get it out of your fucking system, or you drop the chip from your shoulder and we go do this interview. I don’t know about you, but I want to do my job.”

“Fuck you.”

Somers waited a full minute, his eyes still locked with Hazard’s, before Hazard finally looked away. Somers grunted and got back into the Impala. After a moment, Hazard followed. Then he stopped, turned back, and gathered the fallen jacket. He dusted it off and climbed into the passenger seat. Wordlessly, he shoved the jacket at Somers.

“Thanks.”

“Let’s get one thing straight,” Hazard said, his eyes on the dashboard. “I’ll work with you. I’m your partner. I’ve got your back, as far as that goes, and you can count on me when it comes to the job. But if you think I’m going to forgive and forget because you’ve gone to college and you think you’re open-minded now and can crack jokes with your faggot partner, you’re wrong. I know you. I know the special kind of piece of shit you are. Even if nobody else knows, even if you’ve got them all fooled, I know.” Hazard tapped his chest where the three shiny lines still marked him, but inside, he was thinking about what Mikey Grames and Hugo Perry and John-Henry Somerset had done to Jeff, that summer when they’d cut up Hazard’s chest, what they’d done to Jeff when they’d really gotten going. “You made sure I’d never forget.”

Somers paled as he took the jacket. He held it awkwardly, as though unsure of what to do with it, and then dropped it in his lap. He fumbled the key in the ignition, started the car, and then, his face pitched towards the floorboards, said, “I know I fucked up. But I am different. All I’m saying is give me a chance.”

Hazard didn’t answer; he’d said everything he needed to say.

Struggle showed in Somers’s face, and as he shifted the car into gear, he blurted, “And I wasn’t cracking jokes or trying to be funny. You do have a killer ass. So fuck you.”

And that, Hazard decided as they pulled away from the curb, made it official: the whole world had gone batshit.

Discover more of author Gregory Ashe:

Website: https://www.gregoryashe.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Gregory-Ashe/e/B004YYND70/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1179529.Gregory_Ashe

Exclusive Excerpt: Pretty Boy Dead (A Kendall Parker Mystery Book 1) by Jon Michaelsen

Blurb:

2014 Lambda Literary Award Finalist – Gay Mystery

A murdered male stripper. A missing go-go dancer. A city councilman on the hook. It’s a race against time for veteran Atlanta Homicide Detective Kendall Parker to solve the vicious crime, but when the investigation takes a sudden, disastrous turn resulting in the death of a suspect in custody.  But when a local print reporter with ties to the beleaguered cop threatens to expose a police cover-up, Parker will be forced to make a life-changing choice; stand firm for law and justice, or betray the brotherhood of blue.

Cover Design: Elizabeth Leggett; Publisher: Lethe Press

Exclusive Excerpt

“I need to see you.” Slade had whispered loud enough so his editor could hear. Slade stopped short of entering the room.

“Not now, Calvin,” Marsh snapped, gesturing with irritation at the others at the meeting table. “Can’t you see I’m in a meeting?”

Slade disregarded the group and rushed to the editor’s side. He leaned down close and whispered a few words into the man’s ear. The two men engaged in whispered conversation and ignored the aggravated stares of the other executives. Marsh had heard enough.

“Who covered the Crater case?” Marsh blurted out to the men seated around the table. “The death of Councilman Keyes’ aide?”

“Greenfield,” said the Metro editor from the end of the table.

“Get him. Adams.” Marsh barked orders. The city deputy editor snapped his head up from his doodling on the pad. “I need two of your best junior field reporters, a couple of top-notch research assistants and throw in a few green clerks. We have a hell of a lead to authenticate before word leaks to the other networks. Have everybody meet in the war room in fifteen.”

Marsh capped his Waterman pen, picked up the papers on the table before him and shoved back from the table, signaling the end to the meeting.

The war room was a large conference room on the same floor as most of the staff clerks and journalists. Used for departmental meetings and occasionally reserved by print staff thrown into crisis where timing proved critical, it was a think tank for senior field reporters, editors, copy writers, researchers and common clerks working together at breakneck speed to draft a blistering front-page story, a scoop that required swift action and exceptional writing skills. An eight-foot table with folding metal chairs, topped with dual triangle-shaped speaker-phones for conference calls, filled the center of the room. Flat screen monitors tuned to local and national news programming were hung on the walls.

Everyone gathered as requested, poised for instruction and ready to roll up their sleeves. Young clerks were brought in to run errands for the troupe during what might become a multi-hour marathon of making photocopies, getting coffee, fresh donuts, fetching take-out, distributing afternoon snacks, everything to keep the group focused and on track.

Slade perched at one end of the table and outlined the events responsible for bringing them together. Reading from typed pages with scribbled highlights, he brought the assembled staff members up to speed on the story. Based on the facts presented, those gathered believed the victims indeed knew one another, and the video from the fundraiser proved they both had connections to the councilman. Their job now was to confirm and source all the facts, authenticate the details, and fill the gaps for tomorrow’s front page.

Slade organized his pages of notes under the managing editor’s direction, who doled out the assignments to each participant. Everyone relished the adrenaline rush associated with what might well be the hottest story of the year. Covering the city councilman had proved mundane of late, but connecting two dead bodies to the man would fire his unpopularity factor into the ozone. By 9: 00 p.m.,

Marsh approved the third draft and gave Slade the okay to contact Councilman Keyes at his home in Buckhead for a comment. The top brass listened in on extensions as Slade dialed the number. A recorder engaged before the first ring and Keyes answered.

“Councilman Keyes, this is Calvin Slade with the Journal. Can I have a moment of your time?”

“I told you before I have nothing more to say, Mr. Slade. How did you get this number? You know what this is? It’s harassment. I’ll have you thrown in jail if you don’t stop pestering me.”

“I am required to inform you, councilman, this call is being recorded. I think you’ll want to listen to what I have to say.”

“Are you serious?” “We’re running a story in the morning detailing a connection in the murders of Jason North and your office aide, Lamar Crater. We’ll be including a photo of you taken at the Fox Theatre fundraiser speaking to the Piedmont Park victim. We’ll also be running down the young man’s affiliation with the male strip club, Metroplex. It’s our assertion you have knowledge of their deaths, enabling you to be blackmailed to kill your proposed legislation banning alcohol sales in nude dancing clubs in the city.”

Silence. Slade heard a few heavy intakes of breath as what sounded like a drawer opened and closed before he spoke when it became clear that Keyes still remained stunned. “Councilman Keyes, with all due respect, you must know I am calling you out of professional courtesy. I want to give you an opportunity to share your comments with the public who elected you. We will be going to press soon—”

Keyes’s words exploded through the receiver. “Your assertion is preposterous! Who put you up to smearing my name with the primary coming up? What gives you the right to call my home with such an asinine claim? My lawyers will hear about this!”

Slade steadied himself and repeated his offer. “Councilman Keyes, with all due respect, I am calling you out of courtesy. I want to grant you an opportunity to share your comments with our readers. We will be going to press soon…”

“You can go straight to hell, Mr. Slade.”

Slade felt his face burning. “We’re going to press soon, sir. Just give us your side of the story and I’ll personally guarantee—”

“You’ll hear from my lawyers!”

 

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Exclusive Excerpt: Idyll Threats (A Thomas Lynch Novel) by Stephanie Gayle

Blurb:

In the summer of 1997, Thomas Lynch arrives as the new chief of police in Idyll, Connecticut—a town where serious crimes can be counted on one hand. So no one is prepared when Cecilia North is found murdered on a golf course. By chance, Chief Lynch met her mere hours before she was killed. With that lead, the case should be a slam dunk. But there’s a problem. If Lynch tells his detectives about meeting the victim, he’ll reveal his greatest secret—he’s gay.

So Lynch works angles of the case on his own. Meanwhile, he must contend with pressure from the mayor to solve the crime before the town’s biggest tourist event begins, all while coping with the suspicions of his men, casual homophobia, and difficult memories of his former NYPD partner’s recent death.

As the case unfolds, Lynch realizes that small-town Idyll isn’t safe, especially for a man with secrets that threaten the thing he loves most—his job.

  Excerpt:

SATURDAY, AUGUST 9, 1997

2230 HOURS

I didn’t make small talk, didn’t ask about anyone’s evening plans or even say goodnight. I snuck out the station’s rear exit; the metal door squeaky with humidity, got into my cruiser, and drove to a secluded road. I parked and sat, watching the darkness grow, swallowing one tree at a time. I’d driven to the woods to think. Or not to think. To be alone.

I did a lot of that.

An insect symphony played, all percussions. I didn’t like so many bugs so near. I was city-bred, used to roaches and the occasional mos- quito. Something pinged against my windshield. My hand went to my gun. Reflex. The action recalled last year’s report on gun deaths that I’d read earlier today. In 1996, only 55 cops in the U.S. died on the job from gun-related incidents. I bit my lower lip. In a year less likely to end in a police funeral, my partner, Rick, had beaten the odds. Been shot dead by a dealer. I could hear Rick in my head. “What can I say, buddy? I’m exceptional.”

A bug adhered itself to the passenger window, its fat body vibrating against the glass. To hell with this. I turned the key in the ignition. Time to go home.

He sped past my cruiser, his convertible’s top down. Doing 55 miles per hour, at least. I flipped on my lights and siren and cut a U-turn. The car fishtailed before the tires bit down. The frame shuddered as I lowered my foot. The driver slowed, then stopped his car. He stared ahead at the pocked road, hands on the wheel.

I approached slowly. You never know whether the guy you’ve stopped is an upright father of four or an anxious kidnapper. If he was the former, I didn’t want to scare him.

The crescent moon turned his gray hair silver. He turned toward me when I reached his door. Blue eyes. I’ve always been a sucker for blue eyes. “Sir?”

He started when I spoke. Not unusual. I’m a big guy with a deep voice.

“License and registration, please.”

He handed over both. His watch was a TAG Heuer. A real one. I’d seen the fakes sold on Canal Street. His name was Leo Wilton. Age forty-nine. Address in Ashford, CT. Thirty minutes east of here.

I considered running his plates. Screw it. Too much to hope he was a serial killer.

I returned his papers. “The speed limit on this road is 35 miles per hour.”

“That right?”

“Lot of wildlife out here. Deer. They do nasty things to cars.” Or so I’d heard. I’d been here seven months and not seen one. I suspected the locals invented things.

“Sure. Sorry ‘bout that.” He looked directly at me. Straight men don’t stare into each other’s eyes, unless they’re about to fight. This guy wasn’t angry. My body responded. My brain fought back. I was within town limits. I could be spotted. But it had been a long time since I’d scratched this itch. Five and a half months: a long winter, a stone cold spring, and a summer with no skin in it. I craved contact.

“You see a lot of action out here?” He waved his hand at the trees, their needles pointier, ominous at night.

“Action?” He was hitting on me. I hadn’t mistaken it. “Not exactly.” In this town, with its picket-fenced homes, action was unknown. Everyone here was hetero or doing his best to pretend to be. I gave him a small smile, just a quick pull of my lips. It was enough.

“You want to go somewhere?” he asked.

I chewed the smooth skin inside my cheek. I was off duty, but in uniform. A hell of a risk, but he looked nice in the moonlight, like a foil wrapped gift.

“There’s a place not far from here,” he said.

Had I known what would result from this encounter—the secrets, the lies— I would’ve gone home and slept alone, again. But murder doesn’t call ahead; warn you that it’s coming. And if it had, I wouldn’t have believed  it. In  this sleepy  town named  Idyll, murder  seemed impossible. So I walked, light-headed with lust, unaware that each step brought me closer to death and near destruction.

He led me to a disheveled shack I’d heard of but never seen. The cabin by Hought’s Pond was condemned. In New York, to be con- demned required one of three Cs: crack house, critters, or collapse. Here in Idyll, Connecticut, public disapproval was enough. The house, a shingled box, had a sunken porch, rotted roof, and windows shot out by teens with BB guns. Jack is a dooshbag was spray painted on the front door. Above the tag, a frayed No Trespassing sign dangled. This place was a blight in its postcard-perfect town. No wonder they’d con- demned it.

He gripped my shirt and tugged me down so my face was level with his. I stiffened all over. He smelled of peppermint, his lips thin and slick. He reached under my shirt, his fingers tickling my abs. “Some- one’s been working out.”

I grunted. We stomped up the creaking stairs in unsteady lock step. My cock throbbed, halfway between pain and pleasure. Our bodies bumped. “Ah,” I said. I nipped his neck. He held me closer. We crashed through the cabin door. My foot connected with a can. It rattled across the floor.

“Hey!”

We jerked apart. A couple lay on the floor, half undressed. They reared back, as if struck. Near them, an oil lamp glowed. Too dim to warn this place was occupied. “You can’t come barging in here,” the girl said. She lifted her ass to wiggle into her jeans. Metal winked. Belly button ring. She was young. Twenty or so. Her hair a waterfall of brown. Her panties pink lace, a good girl’s version of sexy. She smelled fresh from the shower clean. But her tone and company told a different story. Even in the feeble light I saw her friend was daddy material. His hair thinning on top. He fumbled with his zipper and half-rolled to his side.

“Let’s go,” I said, but Leo crossed his arms. “Not so fast,” he said.

“Faster.” My lust had fled when I’d seen the couple. I touched his hand, but he yanked it back.

“You miss the no trespassing sign?” Leo raised his voice to fill the space.

The girl thrust her face forward. A white oval with red lips. Just kissed. Pretty, and angry. “This your cabin?” she asked. Her tone left no doubt she knew the answer.

“Stop arguing,” her friend said. He stabbed his arms into his jacket. “He could arrest you,” Leo said. He pointed to my badge.

The couple blinked. They hadn’t noticed my uniform. But now they stared, eyes on my badge. I inhaled. It hurt. A lifetime of work, burnt to ash. And for what? A quickie in a rotting cabin? The man got up from the floor and hurried past, hand to his face. Like a pedophile on a perp walk.

The girl looked smaller now, her eyes on the door. “Guess you don’t have any real criminals to chase, huh?” She shoved her feet in her sneakers, not bothering with the laces. As she stomped past I smelled coconut. The door smacked shut and bounced, the wood warped by damp.

“Why the fuck did you do that?” I said to Leo.

“What?”

“Point out my badge. I’m not looking to advertise.”

He spread his arms wide. “Now we have the place to ourselves.” He smiled. I didn’t.

“You don’t bully people because you want a fuck. Got it?”

“Yes, sir.” He saluted.

“I’ll lead you to your car.” Make sure the bastard left town, and fast.

He snorted. “I can find it. I’ve been here before. This place isn’t a

secret.” He pointed at my badge again. “Except to you, I guess. Later,

Chief.” He stepped around a discarded condom. I let him go. He knew

my rank. From the cruiser and my badge. He could report me. Ruin me. If he hadn’t already.

Broken glass littered the floor. The space smelled of pond algae,

like corpses in advanced stages of decay. Multiple people had come here

for sex? Why? And how had I almost been among them? God, I was

like Rick. My dead partner. Risking my career for a stupid fix. Moonlight

shifted through the roof ’s holes. A pattern of spotlights played

on the sprouting floor. A cracked window shivered. In it, I saw myself,

a hulking dark shape. My badge glinted, the only bright thing in that

lonely space. I bent down and blew out the oil lamp flame.

 

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.”

Excerpt from Ghost Ship (a Mahu Investigation Books 10) by Neil Plakcy

Blurb:

New fathers investigate the death of a young family.

When a sailboat carrying four bodies washes up on the Leeward Coast of O’ahu, openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka, on loan to the FBI, must discover what sent this young family and their deadly cargo on a dangerous trans-Pacific voyage. Leaving behind his partner and their infant twins, Kimo must work with his police cohort Ray Donne to unravel the forces that led this family to their deaths. From Hawaii’s sunny beaches to a chillly island in Japan to the Pacific Northwest, Kimo and Ray step far out of their comfort zones to confront an evil much greater than any they’ve investigated before.

ghostship_plakcy

Excerpt:

This is the start of chapter 1

A blue and white sailboat with three sails rested on its side against a rocky shoreline, a gaping hole in the port bow. The sparse grass along the shore had been blocked off by yards of yellow hazard tape, and a rough surf smashed against the hull. In the distance I could see a surfer cresting the top of an early morning wave.

“Turn up the TV volume,” I said to my partner, Mike. We were watching Wake Up, Honolulu!, the morning news program on KVOL, the scrappy independent TV station in Honolulu where my brother Lui worked. It had become our habit now that we were empty-nesters, with our foster son Dakota a sophomore at the University of Hawai’i and living on campus. The twins we had fathered four years before lived with their moms, a lesbian couple who were our close friends, and came to visit us on alternate weekends, or whenever their moms needed a break.

Mike raised the volume in time for us to hear the perky female anchor say, “A jogger on the Leeward Coast made a gruesome discovery just after dawn this morning. Police are already on the scene but have declined comment.”

She turned to face the camera. “And now, let’s take a look at the newest baby otter at the Honolulu Zoo!”

“You can lower the volume now,” I said.

“I’m at your service, master,” Mike said with a grin. Mike was half-Italian and half Korean, while my parents had passed down Caucasian, Japanese and Hawaiian strains. We both had skin that tanned easily, dark hair and facial features that identified us as mixed race, though he was a few inches taller than I was.

Cathy and Sandra, the mothers of our twins, had worked out a scheme which we went along with. Mike’s and my sperm were mixed with Cathy’s eggs, and the resulting embryos had been implanted into Sandra’s womb. That way all four of us were participants in their birth. The twins looked like a mix of all of us—just as we’d hoped.

While Mike finished getting dressed I made sure that our golden retriever, Roby, had water and toys to play with while we were at work. Before we walked out, we stopped at the front door for a goodbye kiss—another of our newer rituals.

Mike was a fire investigator with the Honolulu Fire Department, evaluating any suspicious blazes and teaching his colleagues about new techniques in arson evaluation. My job was no less dangerous than his—after years as a street patrolman and then homicide detective with the Honolulu Police Department, I’d gone on assignment to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

We’d both made a pact years before never to leave each other angry, not knowing what the day could bring. And with Dakota out of the house, we’d indulged in the kind of hot, deep kisses that sealed our desire for each other. Mike grabbed my ass and leaned down, pressing his lips against mine in a clash that grew hotter as we pressed together.

My dick popped up and strained against my pants, and I panted with desire. “I don’t have to be at work on time this morning,” I said, arching my head back so Mike could nip at my neck. “How about you?”

He began unbuttoning the white dress shirt I had begun to wear when I joined the FBI. Mike was wearing a polo shirt with the HFD logo on the breast, so it was easy to pull the tails out of his slacks and stick my hands underneath, sliding through his silky chest hairs.

He unbuckled my belt and unhooked my pants, and they fell to the floor. My dick popped out of the slit in my tropical-print boxers and he wrapped his hand around it as we exchanged hot, sinful kisses.

My cell phone began to ring as I undid his pants and shoved them to the tile floor. “Let it go,” Mike growled into my neck, and I wasn’t sure if he meant to ignore the call or release his dick from his briefs, but I did both.

We kept kissing as we jerked each other in hard, fast strokes. My heart raced and my orgasm rose, suffusing my body with an energy so strong I thought I must be glowing. Then I came, spurting into his hand, and he followed a moment later.

Our bodies sagged together, and I reached out for the front door to steady myself. “Still got it, babe,” Mike said.

My phone beeped to announce a new voice mail, but I ignored it. Mike and I were a tangle of pants around our ankles and sticky come on our hands, and it took a few minutes to extricate ourselves and clean up. Then we kissed goodbye again—this time just a quick peck on the cheek—and I walked out to my Jeep.

It was a gorgeous day in the islands, just a few clouds striating the blue sky, a light breeze dancing in the palm fronds. As I got onto the highway, a broad-winged bird soared high above the highway, and I wished I could be that free—if I didn’t have to go to work, I’d have been out on the surf beyond that wrecked sailboat.

Kimo and his detective partner Ray Donne head out to the scene.

By then the downpour had turned into a sheeting rain, and we were almost on top of the emergency vehicles before we saw their flashing lights. Ray pulled to a stop along the verge behind the ME’s van.

We sat in the car waiting for the monsoon to pass. A pickup towing a sailboat crept past us, wipers flapping, and then suddenly the rain slowed to a drizzle and a rainbow appeared ahead of us. They’re such a common phenomenon in the islands that the University of Hawai’i named their sports teams the Rainbows. Once the rainbow became a gay symbol, the administration tacked “Warriors” on to the end of the male teams. Then they figured out that made them sound like a bunch of radical gay activists, and they allowed each team to choose its own nickname. The result was a mishmash of Rainbows, Warriors, and Rainbow Warriors.

As Ray and I approached the yellow hazard tape around the sailboat in the light rain, someone in a bulky Hazmat suit climbed awkwardly off the bow, looking like a giant lime-green marshmallow man with a gas mask and bright yellow shoes. Even in that getup, I recognized the man I’d been sharing my life with for almost ten years.

Mike stepped onto a polyethylene walkway, stretched out his arms, and let the rain wash over him. The shower dissipated and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. A guy in a firefighter’s uniform stepped up to him, staying outside the yellow tape, and ran a long-handled scanner up and down the hazmat suit.

Mike was stepping out of the suit when I reached him. We tried to stay professional when we were working—no sweetheart, or honey, and that was difficult because I was worried about what he might have been exposed to on that boat.

I struggled to stay cool. “Hey. You find anything interesting in there?” I asked.

“Four dead bodies.” Mike looked grim. “Two of them little babies. They look like Addie and Owen did at that age.”

I could see why he looked shaken. The birth of our twins had rocked our worlds, bringing home the joy and the terror of parenting, and everything that happened to kids reminded us of how fragile those two little lives were.

neilplakcy

Website:

http://www.mahubooks.com/

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/126217.Neil_S_Plakcy