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By Shawn Lane

Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

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Copyright 2018 Shawn Lane

ISBN 9781634864428

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs |

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All rights reserved.

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This book is for ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It may contain sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which might be considered offensive by some readers. Please store your files where they cannot be accessed by minors.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

NOTE: This book was previously published by Amber Quill Press.

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By Shawn Lane

Chapter 1

My alarm screamed loudly from the clock radio next to my bed. It was set to a station that played classic rock, but at the moment the DJ was trying to be funny in a nasally voice. I waved my hand in its general direction. The clock radio had been a gift from my sister a few years ago, and not only did it project the time in big red letters on the ceiling, but it was motion activated. And automatically adjusted itself for the two time changes during the year as well as reset itself whenever the power went out.

I squinted at the ceiling time display.

“Son of a bitch.”

Five in the morning. Still dark outside and I sure as hell did not want to get out of bed. I could hear a little splatter of rain. Traffic was going to be terrible. No one in California could drive in the rain. There’d be plenty of car accidents on the too oil-slicked roads.

I rolled out of bed, eying the empty space that hadn’t been empty a few hours ago. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about what had happened the night before. It sure as hell was never supposed to have happened.


After I walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower, I stood at my toilet to take a leak. When had Edgar even left? I didn’t recall him getting out of bed. He must not have bothered to wake me. That I would have remembered.

I’d been drunk when we started. Drunk when I kissed him. If I was honest, I had started it. Which made sense. I was the one who’d been hung up on him for the last two years. But I was keeping that to myself. Or I was until I kissed him. And kissed him. Sure, Edgar had responded. Didn’t hesitate at all to fuck me. Shouldn’t really be a surprise there either. Edgar fucked any willing guy.

And wasn’t that the problem?

I got in the shower and washed up. When I was done drying off, I pulled on jeans and a maroon T-shirt and went out to the kitchen to make coffee. There was no sign that Edgar had ever been there. But I knew I hadn’t imagined our fevered kisses, his body slamming into mine.

While I waited for my coffee to brew, I sat at the table, eating from a package of powdered donuts, and went over the file I’d brought home with me last night. So far there’d been two murders of homeless men in local parks. I worked in homicide and for the last two years Edgar Lopez had been my entirely unobtainable partner.

I didn’t fool myself that having sex with Edgar meant I obtained him either. Edgar was a player. And I’d known that.

The coffeemaker beeped, indicating it had finished the brew process. I got up and poured myself a cup with cream and sugar and went back to my donuts and the file.

I doubted, prior to the night before, Edgar had even guessed I was into guys. Edgar made no secret of being gay himself. But I wasn’t sure the police chief would allow two gay cops to be partnered together even in our fairly liberal city of Haydon Cliff. I’d always figured who I slept with was no one’s business anyway.

Regarding the case, the only pattern that really stood out with our two homicides was that both men were homeless and sleeping in parks. They had been killed in parks miles from each other and they hadn’t even been killed the same way. One had been stabbed while the other had been strangled. No DNA had been left on either victim by whomever had killed them.

Still, our captain didn’t believe in coincidences and he was completely convinced the murders were related.

I finished my donuts, drained my coffee mug, and stood. I grabbed a travel mug and filled it with more coffee, and headed out of my apartment to my car.

I had a sensible sedan in white. I didn’t care at all about a car as long as it got me where I wanted to go. I would never be up to my elbows under the hood of some muscle car. Definitely not me.

The station was about ten minutes from my house so it wasn’t long before I was pulling into the still-dark parking lot. Edgar’s motorcycle was already there. I had hoped I might have a few minutes at my desk to collect myself and act like nothing different had happened before Edgar sauntered in, but that was not to be.

Someone pounded hard on the window next to me, causing me to jump what felt like ten feet in my seat. I heard laughter.

“Parker, you asshole,” I complained as I opened my car door. “What the fuck was that?”

Frank Parker had been with the Haydon Cliff Police Department since I was a teenager. He was balding and skinny without much of a chin, really. I liked him. Normally. When he wasn’t scaring the shit out of me.

“Wanted to see if you were paying attention, cubby.”

Parker had called me “cubby” from day one and he’d never stopped. Probably never would.

“You do that to Alice?” I asked, referring to his wife.

Parker grinned. “Sometimes. Not too often, though, or she won’t sleep with me.”

“Who could blame her?”

We walked together toward the front doors of the station.

“Any luck on the homeless case?” Parker asked me as we stepped inside.

“Not a clue.”

“I’m sure you and Lopez will find the perp, cubby.”

“That’s the plan.”

Parker stopped at the coffeemaker. He held up the carafe. “Want some?”

“Nah, I still have some good stuff.” I showed him my travel mug and headed to my desk. Edgar, whose desk was across from mine, was already typing away at his computer. My normal practice when I saw him was to call a greeting. So I decided if I was going to act like everything was normal, no big deal, I would do the same now. “Good morning.”

Dark eyes flicked briefly to meet my gaze and then he went back to looking at the computer screen. “Good morning, Scott.”

Not “Scotty,” as it had been last night, of course. Not that I had ever cared for being called Scotty. Mom had called me that when I was a child. “Scott James” when she had been mad, which seemed like most of the time, really. At least when she’d been drinking. Her Irish lilt always came out stronger when she drank even though she’d left Ireland with her parents when she was only seven.

I powered up my own computer and tried not to let Edgar’s heavy silence get to me. It wasn’t as though he was ever the most talkative guy, but this morning his brooding silence weighed heavily on me. Were we going to ignore last night or talk about how it was never going to happen again? Because if I had my way, it wouldn’t.

“I sent you a report on the homeless case,” Edgar said as he leaned back in his chair. His brown, wavy hair was mussed as though he’d been pulling at it. Edgar had a habit of doing just that if he were nervous or stressed.

“Anything new?”

“More detailed report from the coroner.”

I nodded and brought up the report, my gaze scanning it. “Ligature mark on the second victim,” I read softly.

“Probably a rope, sounds like.”

“We should go to the park and see if there’s anyone he was friendly with who might have seen something.”

Edgar nodded. “You want to grab some breakfast on the way?”

Routine, like always. And if Edgar could do it, so could I.

“Sounds good.” I stood, took one last sip of coffee out of my travel mug, and followed Edgar out of the station.

* * * *

The ride to Edgar’s favorite place for breakfast, Lupe’s, was quiet and tension-filled. I didn’t want to be the first one to bring up last night and I guessed Edgar didn’t want to either. We’d taken one of the department’s sedans, an old Ford Taurus, and Edgar had driven.

I caught our reflection in the shiny windows of Lupe’s as we got out of the car. I was a couple of inches taller than Edgar and slimmer, but his brown hair was several shades darker than my own short-cropped hair. At one time Edgar had been interested in body building, and though he’d given that up a while ago, he was still thickly muscled, especially compared to my lanky frame.

Edgar had known Lupe since he was a kid. She was a friend of the Lopez family and she always gave Edgar, and therefore me, special treatment.

“Ah, Edgar, Scott, come in, come in,” the older Mexican lady called to us with a smile. “Your usual table is ready for you.”

We followed her to the last booth in Lupe’s, one that had a direct view of the front. Edgar slid into the booth so that he was facing the door. He’d done that since we’d become partners. Always situated himself in any restaurant so he could see the front door.

“Gina will be with you in a moment,” Lupe promised, then moved off to seat the next group of people who had come in after us.

I made myself busy with the menu until Gina, a petite blonde who had worked there for years, came to our table, smiling.

She glanced first to me. “Coffee with cream?”

I nodded my thanks.

“And a Coke for you, eh, Edgar?”

“Yes.” Edgar watched her move away from our table. “She likes you.”

I shrugged. “She likes everyone.”

“Not the way she likes you. Her face lights up like a cat that swallowed a canary.”

I snorted at that. “Where do you come up with this shit?”

“It’s true.” Edgar’s gaze was on his menu. “Not that I blame her.”

I decided to ignore his words, uncertain if I had misheard him. I was pretty sure I hadn’t, but better safe than sorry.

“I think I’m going to get something different,” Edgar announced.

I looked up, startled. “You always get the same thing.”

He shrugged. “Variety is the spice of life.”

Words that apparently Edgar lived by.

* * * *

Chapter 2

The park where the second murder occurred was known as Lemon Park. It had an official name, something entirely different, but the park was on Lemon Street and that was all anyone ever called it. Even the police department.

Edgar parked the Taurus in the lot and we took the first pathway at the entrance. Haydon Cliff City Park had been the location of the murder of the homeless man who’d been stabbed. That was pretty far from this one.

During the day many of the homeless that hung around Lemon Park could be found elsewhere, trying to panhandle outside stores and such. But there was a bit of a camp toward the back of the park. Generally the homeless there were left alone unless they caused trouble to citizens picnicking or running the park trail.

“There’s Betty,” Edgar said, pointing to the old lady who had just emerged from a copse of trees. “She sees everything.”

And usually kept her mouth shut about it, too, but I agreed it was worth a shot.

Betty was old but I didn’t really know how old. She’d reached the age where you couldn’t really tell if she was eighty or ninety or even a hundred. She’d been homeless around Haydon Cliff since I was a small boy. My family’s home where I grew up had been just around the corner from Lemon Park. Apart from her age, I knew her well. She was the kind of person who was everyone’s confidant. And the fact she wouldn’t talk was why.

Betty had cataracts in one eye, but she glanced at me with the other eye as I approached. “Detective O’Hara.”

“Hello, Betty. You remember Detective Lopez.”

She glanced at Edgar. “Pleasure.”

I tried a smile. “I imagine you know why we’re here.”

“I had my purse stolen a couple of weeks ago,” she said.

“Now, you know we work homicide. Did you report it?”

“What would be the point? Nobody ever cares about the homeless.” She glared at the two of us. “Except when we’re dead.”

“So you do know why we’re here,” Edgar spoke up.

“You’re here about Gus.”

Edgar checked his notes. “Gus Lawrence.”

Betty shrugged. “I knew him only as Gus.”

I nodded. “Were you around the day they found him?”

“I’m always around. But I ain’t the one who found him. That was a fella called Nutsy.”

Edgar stared at her. “Nutsy?”

Betty shrugged. “Don’t know any other names for him.”

“How long have you known Nutsy?” Edgar asked.

“I don’t know.”

Edgar shot me a look, but I just shrugged. If he didn’t know the way Betty was by now he never would.

“What about Gus?” Edgar asked.

“What about him?”

“Did you know him long?”

Betty seemed to consider the question. “Long enough.”

I saw Edgar’s fingers tighten on his pen. “Can you be more precise?”

“Well, you know when you ain’t got a fancy phone or wristwatch, it’s hard to keep track of the years as they pass you by,” she said with a lift of her eyebrows.

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