An Adrien English Mystery: The Dark Tide

BOOK: An Adrien English Mystery: The Dark Tide
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An Adrien English Mystery:

The Dark Tide

Josh Lanyon

An Adrien English Mystery: The Dark Tide

Copyright © December 2009 by Josh Lanyon

All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

eISBN 978-1-60737-490-9

Editor: Judith David

Cover Artist: Croco Designs

Printed in the United States of America

Published by

Loose Id LLC

870 Market St, Suite 1201

San Francisco CA 94102-2907

www.loose-id.com

This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Warning

This e-book contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers. Loose Id LLC’s e-books are for sale to adults ONLY, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

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About this Title

Genre:
LGBT Suspense

Series:
Adrien English Mysteries; Previous Title:
Death of a Pirate King
As if recovering from heart surgery beneath the gaze of his over-protective family wasn't exasperating enough, someone keeps trying to break into Adrien English's bookstore. What is this determined midnight intruder searching for?

When a half-century old skeleton tumbles out of the wall in the midst of the renovation of Cloak and Dagger Bookstore, Adrien turns to hot and handsome ex-lover Jake Riordan—now out-of-the closet and working as a private detective.

Jake is only too happy to have reason to stay in close contact with Adrien, but there are more surprises in Adrien's past than either one of them expects—and one of them may prove hazardous to Jake's own heart.

Publisher's Note:
This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and
situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual
practices.

Dedication

To Lisabea.

To say goodbye is to die a little.

Raymond Chandler,
The Long Goodbye

Chapter One

It began, as a lot of things do, in bed.

Or to be precise, on the living-room sofa where I was uncomfortably dozing.

Somewhere in the distance of a very weird dream about me and a certain ex-LAPD police lieutenant came a faint, persistent scratching. The scratching worked itself into my dream, and I deduced with the vague logic of the unconscious that the cat was sharpening his claws on the antique half-moon table in the hall. Again.

Except…that boneless ball of heat on my abdomen was the cat. And he was sound asleep…

I opened my eyes. It was dark, and it took me a second or two to place myself. Moonlight outlined the pirate bookends on the bookshelf. From where I lay, I could barely make out the motion of the draperies in the warm July breeze in the front room of the flat above Cloak and Dagger Books.

I was home.

There had been a time when I'd thought I would never see home again. But here I was. I had a furry heating pad on my belly, a crick in my neck, and—apparently—a midnight visitor.

My first thought was that Lisa had called Guy, my ex, to look in on me. That furtive scraping wasn't the sound of a key; it was more like someone trying to…well, pick the lock.

I rolled off the sofa, dislodging the sleeping cat, and staggered to my feet, fighting the dizziness that had dogged me since my heart surgery three weeks earlier. I'd been staying at my mother's home in the Chatsworth Hills, but I'd checked myself out of the lunatic asylum that afternoon.

If Guy had dropped by, he'd have turned on the light in the shop below. There was no band of light beneath the door. No, what there was, was the occasional flash of illumination as though someone was trying to balance a flashlight.

I wasn't dreaming. Someone was trying to break in.

I felt my way across the darkened room to the entrance hall. My heart was already beating way too hard and too fast, and I felt a spark of anxiety—the anxiety that was getting to be familiar since my surgery. Was my healing heart up to this kind of strain? Even as I was calculating whether I could get to the Webley in the bedroom closet and load it before the intruder got the door open or whether my best bet was to lock myself in the bedroom and phone the cops, the decision was made for me.

The lock mechanism turned over, the door handle rotated, and the door silently inched out of the frame.

2

Josh Lanyon

I reacted instinctively, grabbing the rush-bottomed chair in the hall and throwing it with all my strength. “
Get the fuck out of here
,” I yelled over the racket of the chair clattering into the door and hitting the floor.

And—surprisingly—the intruder did get the fuck out.

Not a dream. Not a misreading of the situation. Someone had tried to break in to my living quarters.

I heard the heavy
thud
of footsteps pounding down the staircase back to the shop, heard something crash below, heard another crash, and, as I tottered to the wall light switch, the slam of a distant door.

What door? Not the side entrance of the shop below, because I knew that particular bang very well, and certainly not the front door behind the security gate. No, it had to have been from the adjacent structure. The bookstore took up one half of a subdivided building that had originally, back in the thirties, housed a small hotel. The other half of the building had gone through a variety of commercial incarnations, none of which had survived more than a year or so, until I'd finally been in a position to buy it myself the previous spring. It was currently in the expensive and noisy process of being renovated, the two halves divided by a wall of thick plastic.

Not thick enough, clearly.

The contractor had assured me the perimeter doors were guarded by “construction locks,”

and that it was as safe as it had ever been. Obviously he wasn't familiar with my history, let alone the history of the building.

I leaned back against the wall, trying to catch my breath and listening. Somewhere down the street I heard an engine roaring into life. Not necessarily my intruder's getaway car fleeing the scene. This was a nonresidential part of Pasadena, and at night it was very quiet and surprisingly isolated.

There was a time when I'd have intrepidly, Mr. Boy Detective, gone downstairs to see what the damage was. That that was four murder investigations, one shooting, and one heart surgery ago. Instead I got the gun from the bedroom closet, loaded it, returned to the front room, where the windows offered a better vantage point, and picked up the phone. The streetlamps cast leopard spots on the empty sidewalk, accentuated the deep shadows between the old buildings.

Nothing moved. I recalled a line by Raymond Chandler: “The streets were dark with something more than night.”

Reaction hit me, and I slid down the wall and dialed 911.

I was having trouble catching my breath as I waited—and waited—for the 911 operator, and I hoped to hell I wasn't having a heart attack. My heart had been damaged by rheumatic fever when I was sixteen. A recent bout of pneumonia had worsened my condition, and I'd been in line for surgery even before getting shot three weeks earlier. Everything was under control now, and according to my cardiologist, I was making terrific progress. The ironic thing about the surgery and the news that I was evidently going to make old bones after all was that I felt mortal in a way that I hadn't for the last fifteen years.

Tomkins pussyfooted up to delicately head-butt me.

“Hi,” I said.

He blinked his wide, almond-shaped, green-gold eyes at me and
meowed
. He had a surprisingly quiet meow. Not as annoying as most cats. Not that I was an expert—nor did I plan on becoming one. I was only loaning a fellow bachelor my pad. The cat—kitten, really—was An Adrien English Mystery: The Dark Tide

3

also convalescing.
He'd
been mauled by a dog three weeks ago. His bounce back was better than mine.

I stroked him absently as he wriggled around and tried to bite my fingers. I guessed there was truth to the wisdom about petting a cat to lower your blood pressure, because I could feel my heart rate slowing, calming—which was pretty good, considering how pissed off I was getting at being kept on hold in the middle of an emergency.

Granted, it wasn't much of an emergency at this point. My intruder was surely long gone.

I chewed my lip, listened once more to the message advising me to stay on the line and help would soon be with me. Assuming I'd still be alive to take that call.

I hung up and dialed another number. A number I had memorized long ago. A number that seemingly would require acid wash to remove from the memory cells of my brain.

As the phone rang on the other end, I glanced across at the clock on the bookshelf. Three oh three in the morning. Well, here was a test of true friendship.

BOOK: An Adrien English Mystery: The Dark Tide
8.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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