Since I have two different projects coming out in October, Dawn has been kind enough to let me tease both of them. First up, the novella The Little Death, out October 5th, through Dreamspinner Press. It’s my roundabout tribute to Raymond Chandler.
Jake Falconer, a hard-boiled detective in Echo City, is struggling with his love of booze, a square ex (and a cop, no less) he can't get over, and a murdered partner. In sashays Sloane, an homme fatal whose twin brother has gone missing. The search leads them to a sex club used for blackmailing the city’s most powerful, and soon Jake finds himself hip deep in sex and danger—it’s a good thing he’s no stranger to slogging through either.
I knew he was trouble the moment he walked in the door.
A tall, sexy glass of water, he had the body of Michelangelo’s David, packed into a pair of blue jeans and a Tool T-shirt so tight you could see what he had for breakfast: a shot glass full of orange juice, and a grape. His hair was silky black, a fall of shadow crowning a ruggedly handsome face, with eyes as brown as chocolate kisses and skin the color of caramels. I could have eaten him with a spoon.
“Are you Jake Falconer?” he asked, his voice a smooth baritone coming out of pouty lips that probably had made many men dream of what he could do with them.
“That’s what it says on my business cards,” I replied, leaning back casually in my chair, pretending he didn’t just give me a semi. “Who might you be?”
“Sloane, Sloane Granger,” he replied, surprising me. I was expecting something exotic. “I was told you were the man to see. My twin brother is missing, and I’m afraid something terrible has happened to him.”
“You have a twin?” My mind went to a very dirty place, and I enjoyed the thought of being double teamed by the hunky Granger twins for a second, before snapping back to the here and now. I gestured to the chair in front of my desk, and he had a seat.
Sloane, unaware of my brief sojourn into the gutter, nodded politely. “Yeah, Sander Granger. He’s two minutes older.”
“Sander?” I wondered what kind of sick parents they had. Sloane and Sander? They sounded like a law firm. “Hell of a name. So when did he go missing? Why do you think something terrible happened to him?”
Sloane settled into the chair in a way that made me jealous of the seat. He ran a hand—a big hand—through his hair, messing it up in a way that made it even more irresistibly sexy. “It was last week. He told me he was going to that new club, Heat. You know the one?”
I nodded. “It rings a bell.” Actually, it set off the fire alarm. Every “alternative” gay publication in the city had run at least one full-page ad for the joint. I didn’t go in for gay clubs, mainly because they were too noisy and overloaded on twinks, who weren’t my thing at all, but I’d read the ads anyway. Heat promised “foam parties” (whatever those were), swimsuit contests, and more. It sounded like another cheesy nightclub desperate for business in the recession-wracked downtown corridor.
“Anyways, he left at eight and called me around ten to tell me he was going to this party with Nick… and that was the last I heard from him. I thought maybe he spent the night at some trick’s place, that he’d come home the next afternoon, but he never did.”
“You talk to Nick?”
“Yeah, but he said Sander got picked up at the party by this silver fox, and that was the last he saw of him. He didn’t know the guy, didn’t know where they went.”
I scratched my head, made a show of thinking, when all I really wanted to do was take a slug of whiskey from the flask in my top desk drawer. Whiskey helped me think, even though Spencer, my old partner, claimed I just said that so I could openly drink on the job. “I assume you’ve been to the police.”
“Of course! But they didn’t seem to care. The guy I talked to told me my brother was an adult, and most likely he’d just run off without telling me, that I’d get a postcard from him in a few months or something.”
That wasn’t a surprise. Adult men rarely disappeared involuntarily, although when they did, the reasons weren’t pretty. “Was the cop’s name Hickey?”
He looked adorably confused and after a moment’s thought shook his head. “I dunno. Can’t remember his name.”
“Sounds like him.” There were a lot of dicks at the cop shop—not the good kind—but Hickey was the King Dong of the place. “So why do you think something bad’s happened to him? Not to give credence to the boys in blue, but Sander could have run off.”
Sloane sighed heavily, looking at me with those softly moistening doe eyes. This guy was a hot piece of ass, and he knew it. “He was getting threatening e-mails, and he got a final one the night of the party. I hacked into his e-mail and read it. It said, ‘Tonight’s the last night you’ll ever have’.”
“You let the cops know, I take it.”
“Yeah, but since Sander himself never took them seriously—he thought they were from some troll he encountered on a message board—they didn’t take them seriously either.”
There was a lot in his story that didn’t make sense, but I was still intrigued. Okay, mainly by those rock-hard pecs barely constrained by the taut fabric of his T-shirt and the noticeable bulge in the crotch of his jeans like he was trying to smuggle a salami through customs. But hey, I’m only human.
I know it’s all a cliché: the hard-drinking detective with the run-down office and a lifetime of regrets and bad luck propping up his spine, but far be it from me to bust a cliché.
Sloane didn’t kiss me or tickle my balls, but obviously those possibilities were still on the table, pending the outcome of the case. His credit card was nice and shiny, and I felt like I was taking its virginity, but that just made me want to run it again and again until it begged for mercy.
Yeah, it probably had been too long since I got laid. If only Sloane would help me with that problem.
I watched him leave, his ass so incredibly edible in those tight jeans of his it was all I could do not to lunge out from my desk and bite it. Although the door of my office had a window, it was opaque, so I could only see his shadow once he closed it. Still, it was a sexy silhouette.
I slumped back in my seat and pulled the flask out of the drawer. I had to fulfill the cliché, so it was a silver flask filled with cheap rotgut, which I swigged with abandon even while wincing at the taste.
So yeah, I’m the cliché, a private dick with a cheap office and a dead partner and more debt than I could possibly pay off in a month of Sundays. Not that you could tell from my door. Used to be there was a name painted on the window, but that wasn’t true anymore. The hail of bullets that killed Spencer, my partner in snooping, destroyed the original door, so this was the replacement. I was supposed to hire painters to replace the name, but what was I going to replace it with? Was I really gonna go from Spencer & Falconer, Private Detectives to Falconer, Private Detective? I had no choice, I’d hafta, or I’d hafta find a new partner. Yeah, right. Maybe I’d just hafta retire, find a real job, one that didn’t cut your life span in half and leave you with more trouble than a nun with a grudge in hell’s half acre. The problem was I couldn’t do much else, and frankly I didn’t want to. As much as I hated it sometimes, I was born to be a private dick. I couldn’t change that any more than a zebra could change its stripes.
Now, the next project is a short story, the first in a series of shorts for the newly launched Riptide Publishing. It's called Pretty Monsters (Josh of the Damned #1), and is my foray into m/m horror comedy.
Josh knew the night shift at the Quik-Mart would be full of freaks and geeks—and that was before the hell portal opened in the parking lot. Still, he likes to think he can roll with things. Sure, the zombies make a mess sometimes, but at least they never reach for anything more threatening than frozen burritos. Besides, it’s not all lizard-monsters and the walking dead. There’s also the mysterious hottie with the sly red lips and a taste for sweets. Josh has had the hots for Hot Guy since the moment he laid eyes on him, and it seems Hot Guy might be sweet on Josh too. Now if only Josh could figure out whether that’s a good thing, a bad thing, or something in between. After all, with a hell vortex just a stone’s throw away, Josh has learned to take nothing at face value—even if it’s a very, very pretty face.
The first time the hell vortex opened in the Quick-Mart parking lot, Josh very seriously considered quitting his job. But all that came out of it was a lizard guy, and all it did was amble inside, buy a bag of chips, and leave. All the monsters, while ugly, seemed nicer than his late-night human customers, and Mr. Kwon offered him hazard pay, so he stayed on.
Besides, it wasn’t all bad on the night shift. For instance, right now he was looking forward to the return of Hot Guy.
Of course it was a super hot night, still eighty degrees around midnight, and the air conditioner had to pick now to die. Josh peeled off his polyester work smock and put his nametag on his t-shirt, hoping Mr. Kwon wouldn’t suddenly show up and demand he put it back on. It breathed like a trash bag.
His latest customer was an obviously stoned guy buying a wheelbarrow full of snacks. Not only were his eyes glassy and red, but he reeked of pot smoke, making Josh wonder if he’d spilled the bong water. Pot Guy left and someone else came in. Josh leaned over the checkout counter, hopeful, but it wasn’t Hot Guy, just a lizard guy.
“Guy” in a generic, gender free sense of the word, of course, because Josh had no idea how to tell if they were male or female. Maybe they didn’t even have genders. He didn’t know how to ask without being a rude bastard, and there was a chance he wouldn’t understand the answer anyway.
The Little Death is available from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2531 (And don't forget to search for the free Roan and Paris story available through Dreamspinner's Halloween Howl contest.)
And Pretty Monsters (Josh of the Damned #1) is now available for pre-orders through Riptide Publishing's site: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/pretty-monsters-josh-damned-1 (And don’t forget to attend their grand opening party for a chance to win free books and more.)