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... an absolutely riveting suspense tale, by far one of the best this reviewer can remember. Rich in depth of characterization with a twisty plot that keeps the reader guessing, this book is truly marvelous.

The Romance Studio
Love is a dark horse—and Sean Fairchild is in for the ride of his life.
Paul Hammond is dead. That’s what tough and sexy LAPD Detective Daniel Moran tells his lover, Hollywood actor Sean Fairchild—and Sean wants to believe him, but what about those threatening postcards in Hammond’s handwriting? What about the fact that he’s seeing Hammond everywhere he goes? Yes, Sean’s had some emotional problems in the past, but that was a long time ago and he’s not imagining things, so why is Dan looking at him that way?

OR

 

 

The post card was nestled between Variety and the Edison bill.

Just an ordinary picture postcard. White font proclaimed MALIBU! across the Mai Tai-colored sunset. I turned the card over and there was the spidery black writing I had thought I would never see again.

Miss me?

No signature. No signature needed. I looked at the postmark. Pacific Coast Highway. Yesterday’s date.

I stared for a long time while Dan’s deep voice receded into the cries of the gulls overhead and the pound of the waves on the beach a few yards away until those too faded to a kind of white noise.

No. God no.

Then Dan stretched across and took the card from my unresisting hand, and I was abruptly back in the present.

The wooden chair creaked as he leaned back, his long muscular body at ease. His dark brows drew together. Absently, he raked his still-wet hair back. It’s not like there was a lot to read. One simple sentence.

Miss me?

A rhetorical question if there ever was one.

Water glistened on Dan’s broad sun-browned shoulders, one drop trickling down between his rock-hard pecs, sparkling through the dusting of dark hair across his flat abdomen, and the tiny flicker of irritation I’d felt at his arrogance faded in the wake of lust. After nearly a month of playing Bodyguard to the Stars, I couldn’t blame him if he still occasionally reacted like he was getting paid for overtime.

“It’s not Hammond,” he said, and tossed the card to the table. It landed face up in a blob of crab-apple jelly.

“The writing is the same.”

“Superficially. We’d have to get it analyzed. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Say one of his cards was delayed for a few days, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s dead.”

“If he is dead.”

His eyes, blue as the surf behind him, met mine levelly. “Sean, he’s dead. I saw the car. No one could have survived that crash.”

“Then why wasn’t his body recovered?”

“It’s somewhere in the aqueduct. I don’t know. It must have been swept away or lodged somehow.”

I nodded tightly. It’s not like there’s high tide in the California Aqueduct.

Dan’s large hand slid under my fingers nervously fiddling with a teaspoon. “It’s over, chief. Trust me.”

“I do.” It came out more husky than I intended.

He turned my hand palm up, lightly kissing it. The warmth of his lips against my surf-chilled skin made me shiver. I dropped the teaspoon. It hit the edge of my saucer with a silvery chime. He grinned.

You only ever hear about closeted cops, so Dan’s relaxed attitude still caught me off guard. He was probably more at ease with his sexuality than half the “civilians” I knew. He sure as hell was more relaxed than me.

I pulled my hand away at the familiar yap-yapping of the four-legged hairball belonging to our nearest neighbor Mrs. Wilgi. Sure enough, a moment later “Mrs. Wiggly” came around the cairn of rocks, armed with her usual binoculars and police whistle.

I caught Dan’s eye. His grin was wry. He was getting to read me pretty well.

I said, “Hey, for all I know Mrs. Wiggly has a spy cam concealed in her muu muu.”

He forked another waffle off the plate. “I don’t even want to think about what that muu muu conceals.”

I laughed. My glance fell on the jam-stained postcard and I made myself look away. If Dan said it was over, it was over. He was the expert here.

All the same, after a year of being stalked, it wasn’t so easy to drop my guard. One week after Paul Hammond lost control of his car during a police chase on Highway 138 and crashed into the California Aqueduct, I still tensed when the phone rang, waiting for that familiar whisper. I still sorted through my mail fast, trying to get it over with in case, like today, something ugly fell out of the mix. I still watched the rear view mirror everywhere I drove, although for the past three weeks Lt. Daniel Moran of L.A.P.D. had been riding shotgun with me-when he didn’t insist on doing the actual driving.

I said, talking myself away from my anxiety, “I just don’t want to turn up in the National Inquirer as the gay Benifer or something.”

“Dansean?” Dan suggested, playing along.

“I’m the celebrity,” I pointed out. “My name gets top billing. Maybe…Seandan.”

“You can be the top anything you like.” Dan’s eyes were very blue. “Just say the word.”

Heat rose in my face.

I mean, how ridiculous was that? You’d think I was a blushing virgin of seventeen, instead of which I was a reasonably experienced twenty-five year old veteran of the Hollywood party scene. True, most seventeen-year olds probably saw more action than me-although things were definitely looking up these days.

Automatically, I returned Mrs. Wilgi’s wave as she tromped along the shoreline, her red and yellow dress puffing out and flattening against her ungainly body. The dog, barking hysterically, veered off, galloping towards the deck where we sat, as though he’d just noticed this house on the otherwise empty beach.

“Doesn’t that thing have an off button?” I murmured.

Mrs. Wilgi began clapping frantically and calling to the dog.

“Binky! Binky!”

“Speaking of off buttons,” Dan remarked, “I’m supposed to start back at work tomorrow.”

“Oh.”

I tried to hide it, but I knew he could see my disappointment.

He said, his tone very casual, “Were you planning to stay out at the beach for a few days or should I drop some things off at the house?”

“The House” being my place in the Hollywood Hills. My place and now, maybe, Dan’s place too. It was still so new this relationship, so unexpected. We were both tentative, feeling our way along. Trying not to take too much for granted. Or spoil it by not taking enough for granted.