|Available as an ebook, print paperback,|
and print hardcover.
Chose your format here.
Jack has coped through previous holidays, but this one feels different. It's been four years since he lost his family, and clues to finding those responsible have dried up. Hopelessness has him so tightly wound that he's often driven out of his claustrophobic apartment before the ever-present black dog of depression drags him to a place where there's no coming back from.
Jack wants to be left alone with his sorrow, but when he's offered double his fee by the wife of one of the city's most elite families, how can he refuse? She wants him to follow her husband, Franklin, as she suspects he's cheating and needs photos to get around the strict prenup. Franklin leads Jack across the city to The Majestic Lounge, the Castro District's most popular gay nightclub. By the time he finds Franklin, Jack is forced to break up a heated argument between him and club owner, Chad Lucas.
Lucas approaches Jack the following day, wanting to hire him for added security during the club's popular annual Drag Queen Extravaganza. The event's usual excitement is marred by the deaths of several of Lucas' friends that authorities are calling suicides. Lucas convinces Jack something more nefarious is going on and agrees to the job.
Does the city have another serial killer on its hands, one who's targeting the LGBTQ community? Can Jack find a witness? Surely in the crowded nightclub, someone must have seen something.
San Francisco, California
“Police! Don’t move.”
Jack froze. The hairs on the back of his neck stood to attention as the officer's light abruptly silhouetted him against the brick wall in front of him.
“Slowly. Clasp your hands behind your head and turn around.”
He remained on his knees and did exactly as the officer commanded. As a former cop, he knew the officer had her weapon aimed at his head, and she wouldn’t be afraid to use it if he didn’t do what she said.
Facing the officer, he squeezed his eyes shut against the light, turning his head away from the glare. Even though he knew the routine, his heartrate kicked up a notch waiting for his next instruction.
“Move this way.” The uneven pavement bit into his knees. “Far enough. Put your chest on the ground. Arms wide out to the side. Cross your ankles.”
Lowering himself to the ground, he kept his face slightly above the pavement and tried breathing through his mouth. The smell of rotting garbage, motor oil, and piss filled his nostrils, as did whatever else had been spilled, dragged, or dropped in the dark alleyway. Overlaying it all was the metallic scent of the woman's blood. His throat constricted as the taste of it hit the back of his throat when he inhaled.
The officer called for backup on her body-worn radio, and a moment later, Jack heard the approach of who he assumed was her partner.
"What have we got here, partner?" a male voice asked.
For a split moment, an image of Paul Travers flashed in his mind. He shook it off. Travers was dead.
"I got this," she told him.
Just under the light's glare, Jack saw the partner's feet stop beside the first officer. He was sure a second weapon was aimed in his direction by the additional light not flooding his vision. He squeezed his eyes shut and spun his head away.
"Are you sure? He's a big fucker."
"I said, I got this." There was no mistaking the angst in her voice. Trouble in Paradise? Perhaps not a partnership made in Heaven. This guy wasn't Travers, but he still sounded like an asshole.
Jack heard shuffling but the officers stayed where they were.
"So far, so good," she continued. "I’m going to cuff you now and bag your hands. Any trouble and my partner won’t hesitate to aerate your skull.”
Her partner kept the light trained on him while the female officer moved toward him. At his side, her heard her holster her weapon before grabbing and twisting his wrist upward in a control hold while bringing her knee down onto his shoulder. His wedding ring crushed against his fingers. It hurt. She had his attention.
Putting most of her weight on him, practically sitting on his head, his face was forced onto the filthy ground. She quickly snapped one a cuff onto the wrist in her hand. Jack knew she'd want the other wrist and presented it to her. His heavy leather jacket creaked in protest as she pulled up on his wrist to snap on the second cuff.
"I see you've done this before, so you know how this is going to go. Don't fight me and everything will go smoothly. I'm going to bag your hands now, then conduct my pat down." After sliding sterile bags onto his hands, she lifted off him, pulling on the cuffs to partially roll him over and patting down one side from the collar down, then the other, before putting her weight onto the back of his thighs and patting down his calves and checking his boots. She bagged his boots too before she rose off him and moved away. He heard her weapon come out of the holster again before she moved away from him. Both officer's lights were back in his eyes.
Hand and foot preservation bags were essential for preserving evidence in cases like this. Besides the obvious blood DNA, it was possibly gunshot residue transferred onto him when he tried slowing the flow of blood. He was pretty sure they'd eventually take his clothes.
This was all by the book. At any other time, with anyone else, he'd be impressed.
“Wanna tell me about this?” she asked.
Jack angled his head and through the light shimmers in his vision, he met the frozen gaze of the woman beside him.
What had happened?