Detective Cristian Flesh is about to find out that he can only run from his past for so long.
When a local man is attacked and the suspect is a hustler, Cristian knows there’s more to the case than meets the eye. His investigation will lead him into a maze of lies, deceit, and underage prostitution. But that’s only the beginning as people start disappearing and turning up dead. Cristian begins to realize that solving the case and stopping the murders won’t be enough. If he wants to make his new life with lawyer Colby Maddox work, he’ll need to face the demons of his past and put them to rest once and for all.
“THE WEDDING was okay, I guess,” I said.
“Come on, Cris. I need more details than that.” It was around 4:00 p.m. on Monday, and I was sitting at my desk at the Reno Police Department, being grilled by my partner, Alexandra Luther. Everyone calls her Lex. I had no idea why she chose to take her husband’s name when it gave her the same name as a comic book character. I guess love makes you do stupid things. She was the total opposite of the other guy. The Superman bad guy would tower over her five-foot-six frame, and he’d probably love to have her long black hair on his bald skull. My Lex was slightly chubby, though she had slimmed down in the past few months.
“What kind of details?” I asked.
“What did the wedding dress look like? Were the vows sweet? How did the cake taste?”
“Fuck, Lex, I don’t pay attention to shit like that.”
“What kind of fag are you if you don’t pay attention to those things?” she asked, laughing.
“I’m the kind of fag who doesn’t care about those things,” I answered.
“What did you pay attention to at the wedding?”
“I paid attention to the fact that Colby was there and held my hand during the ceremony. I paid attention to Colby standing up for me when his older brother bad-mouthed me. I paid attention when Colby and I fucked like rabbits all over that huge place.”
“TMI, Cris. Jesus Christ, I don’t want to hear about your sex life.” She grimaced.
“What kind of fag hag are you if you don’t want to hear about my sex life?”
“How many times do I have to tell you—I am not a hag.”
“Flesh! Luther!” Chief Gary Brunson boomed from the door of his office before he stepped back inside.
“We’re being beckoned.” Lex smiled. “You want to make him stew and wait a few minutes?”
“No,” I replied. “He’ll blame me.”
“I know.” She grinned.
“Let’s go,” I said, smiling.
“Have I told you how much I like seeing you smile?” Lex said.
“Aren’t you used to it yet?”
“You’ve been with Colby for a while now, but I had years of your constant frown before that.”
I ignored her comment, and we stepped into Brunson’s office.
“What’s up, Chief?” I asked.
“Clayton Shaw is in the hospital. He’s unconscious. He was beaten with his own cane.”
Clayton Shaw was part owner of the Legacy Casino—one of the largest casinos in the area. Clayton was openly gay and fit the description of a silver fox. He was forty-five with a full head of gray hair and the beginning of a gut. He was also smug and arrogant and walked with a fancy cane—as an affectation because he thought it made him look cool, not because he needed one. I’d run into him a few times at the gay bars and the bathhouse. He’d propositioned me a few times, but his body reminded me too much of certain things in my past. But my past is something I don’t talk about. That’s rule number six.
“We got a suspect?” I asked. Though Lex and I were homicide detectives, we also handled cases that involved a lot of publicity.
“That’s your job,” he answered. “Go.” His eyes turned to the computer screen, which was his way of dismissing us. We didn’t have to ask where we were going—Shaw’s place was well-known to everyone in the area. He lived in a gated community called Arrowcreek, which was located on the eastern foothills of the Sierra Mountains and had amazing views of Reno and the Truckee Meadows Valley. Homes there started in the mid-$200,000 range and ran into the two millions.
Lex rode with me as I drove my faded blue 2005 Jeep Liberty Sport to Shaw’s place. I’d seen it before, but it still took my breath away. It was gorgeous in an ostentatious sort of way. The mansion was built in Tuscan style, with curved windows and an arched gate that led into a large central courtyard. In the center of the courtyard was a statue of a golden woman that was also a fountain.
Uniformed officers were already there, and one of them led us through the front door, up a curved staircase to the master bedroom, and into the attached bathroom. The bedroom had a small leather love seat and a king-size four-poster bed made of dark oak. The bathroom itself was almost as large as my entire apartment. It had sinks on each side as well as floor-to-ceiling cherry cabinets. At the far end of the room were a large, deep sunken tub and a huge shower.
Lex and I went to the tub—the scene of the crime. It was still filled, but the water wasn’t clear—it was red. There was also blood all over the outside of the tub, the floor, and the wall.
A CSI tech named Cherry was there collecting blood samples.
“Find anything yet?” Lex asked.
“I’ll be running tests on the blood as soon as I get back,” Cherry answered. “I have the weapon bagged already. I’m hoping we’ll find a fingerprint on it.”
“Why would the attacker leave the weapon behind?” Lex asked.
I shook my head but didn’t answer. I surveyed the room, trying to picture how the crime had taken place. The first guess would be breaking and entering. Maybe Shaw was taking a bath when the intruder broke in, not knowing anyone was there. That theory didn’t make sense for a couple of reasons. The first was that Shaw’s place had a state-of-the-art alarm system. The second reason was that nothing had been stolen. Even the dumbest thief wouldn’t ignore the valuables downstairs and come upstairs to the bathroom.
I didn’t have to verbalize my thoughts to Lex, because I knew she was thinking the same thing.
“It couldn’t have been an intruder,” Lex said.
“Whoever it was had to have been invited in,” I replied. I turned to the uniformed officer who had escorted us in. “Where was the victim located?” I asked.
“Half in and half out of the tub, sir,” he answered.
“And the wounds? Were they on the front of the body or the back?”
“All over, Detective. My guess would be the perp first attacked the vic as they were facing each other. And the beating continued after the vic had been knocked unconscious. I would say the perp stood on the side of the tub while he beat the vic.”
“Can I see the cane?” I asked Cherry. She grabbed the bag and handed it to me. The staff was made of a light oak, and the handle was a single deer horn. The point of the horn wasn’t very sharp, but with enough force, it could’ve been used as a stabbing weapon. Based on the blood on the cane and the handle, it looked like that was exactly what it had been used as.
“What time did the attack take place?”
“Approximately 3:30 p.m.,” Cherry answered.
DSPP: Click Here
Amazon: Click Here
Ethan Stone lives in the soggy state of Oregon, and, yes, he does have webbed feet. He used to have a day job where he wore a sexy uniform, now he can wear whatever he wants to work as he attempts to see if this writing thing can support his Mt. Dew addiction.