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It was great to see these guys happy and settled and living together, with plenty of scenes and special times in this novella. They certainly deserved this after the previous heart-wrenching episodes.

Lily G. Blunt
God Help You Merry Gentlemen…
Arriving home early after spending Christmas in jolly old England, sometime amateur sleuth Adrien English discovers alarming developments at Cloak and Dagger Books–and an old acquaintance seeking help in finding his missing boyfriend.
Fortunately, Adrien just happens to know a really good private eye…

I caught Kevin about half a block down the street. He was climbing into a red Jeep. For some reason I’d still pictured him driving around in that old Forest Service truck.

Guy was right. He did look a lot like a younger, softer version of Jake. I’d never seen Jake wear that particular expression of relief and stubbornness, though. One thing Jake was not was irresolute.

“This is not a good idea,” I told Kevin, reaching the Jeep, slightly out of breath.

“Then don’t come.”

Since I’d had no intention of going with him, I was surprised to hear myself say, “You sure as hell can’t go on your own.”

He slid behind the wheel, and I opened the passenger door and jumped in. Kevin started the engine.

“What are you hoping to get out of this?” I closed my eyes as he narrowly missed taking out both a parking meter and a pedestrian—and felt blindly for the seat belt.

“I want to look him in the eyes when I ask him what he did to Ivor.”

I opened my own eyes to stare at him in disbelief. “Really? You’re now an expert in neurolinguistics? Even if it was possible to tell whether someone is lying from micro eye movements, you charging over there and accusing Ivor’s brother—Ivor’s anybody—of murder—is guaranteed to create a tense situation and a totally unproductive dynamic.”

“If it was you, would you just let it go?”

“No. But I would at least try to take the advice of professionals so that I didn’t make things worse.”

How can it be any worse?” he cried. “He’s gone. No one knows where he is. No one cares.”

“I care. Jake cares. The family cares, or they wouldn’t have hired Jake. The fact that there aren’t any answers yet doesn’t mean that no one cares. It means…there are no answers yet. And pissing off the Arbuckles isn’t going to get you answers faster.” I added, “And if Terrill is involved, the last thing you’d want to do is tip him off to the fact that he’s under suspicion.”

Kevin didn’t answer. He was driving with speed and purpose, as though he knew exactly where we were headed.

I said, afraid I already knew the answer, “Have you been to Terrill’s house before?”

“I’ve been staking him out.”

“You’ve been…”

He clenched his jaw. “That’s right. I’ve been watching him. Waiting to see what he does. I know he did something to Ivor. I can feel it in my gut.”

I stared at him for a disbelieving moment; then I pulled my phone out and called Jake.

He answered at once. “What’s up?”

“Where are you?”

“The parking lot known as the I-110.”

“Kevin and I are on our way over to Terrill Arbuckle’s.”

“Why would that be?” Jake asked with ominous calm.

“Because I couldn’t talk him out of going, and I thought it might be better to have a witness.” Or maybe simply an innocent bystander. Those usually came in useful for catching stray bullets.

“I’m just going to talk to him,” Kevin muttered.

“Goddamn it.” The very quietness of Jake’s voice made me wince.

“Look, I know. Is there any chance you could—”

“No,” he said. “There is not a chance in hell. It’s wall-to-wall cars out here. Don’t—do not—get in the middle of that.”

“I’m hoping to be the voice of reason.”

“I’d prefer that you were the voice out of range. Way out of range.”

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to do anything stupid.”

His silence was what they call in books “resounding.”

“More stupid,” I amended.

“Adrien—”

“I’ll be careful, and I’ll keep you posted.” I clicked off.

Sometimes you have to help people avoid saying things they’ll regret.