Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Teaser Excerpt for Ticket to Ride
Since Ticket to Ride doesn't come out until December,here is Ticket to Ride teaser:
“Holy shit, do you know who that is?”
Lieutenant Jack Reeves paused his pen in the middle of a notation about the crime scene and eyed Detective Albert Ramirez who stood beside him.
He followed Al’s gaze to the man sitting in the white plastic patio furniture chair. The man leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees and his head in his hands. He had short, straight blond hair done in some fancy salon fashion. Jack still visited barbers himself. Jack estimated the blond to be in his mid to late thirties, and though he admitted the guy was pretty, he was also a total stranger.
“No, should I?”
Al shot him a look that said he was a complete idiot. He supposed he was to the much younger detective. Jack, who had turned forty-three on his last birthday, felt positively ancient compared to thirty-three year old Al. He started jotting down his notes again.
“Chad Storm,” Al said.
A soap opera name if ever he’d heard one. He shrugged. “Actor?”
Al groaned. “No, lieutenant. Chad Storm.”
Like saying it again would clue him in. He shrugged again.
“The lead singer of Lightning.”
“Oh.” Jack nodded and closed his spiral notebook. “Rock music, right?”
Al tsked. “Yes.”
“I’m not really into that sort of thing.”
Al rolled his eyes. “Fifteen years ago Lightning was the hottest group out there.”
“Hmm. What about now?”
“Well, they broke up a few years ago, actually,” Al admitted. He turned to watch the body of the victim being lifted out of the bloody swimming pool. Then he turned back to Jack. “Can I question him?”
“No way. You’re too much of a fan boy. I’ll talk to Mr. Storm. You go talk to the maid.”
Al grimaced. “All right.”
Jack patted Al’s shoulder and walked past him toward the rock star. He grabbed a nearby plastic chair and brought it over next to Storm. He sat down and cleared his throat.
Storm straightened and looked at him. He had killer blue eyes, Jack quickly noted. “Hello,” he said softly.
“Lieutenant Reeves, Homicide.” He opened his notebook again. “Is Chad Storm your real name?”
“Yes. Well, it is my legal name. I officially changed it when I formed Lightning.” Storm smiled a little crookedly. “You know, it went with the band name.”
“Uh-huh. What’s your real name then?”
Storm shifted uncomfortable and stared out at the reddish pool, looking vaguely green. “Do you really need that?”
Though it wasn’t a funny situation, Jack found himself smiling just a little. “It can’t be that bad.”
“It is.” He sighed. “Lester Chadwick.”
Jack blinked, wrote it down, and cleared his throat. “Okay, Mr. Storm, how did you know the victim?”
“We were…you know, a couple.” Storm looked away from the pool and bit his bottom lip. “Not anymore. I mean even be-before this.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.” Years ago when he’d began his career as a police officer he practiced those words. Practiced making them sound almost casual. A police officer wasn’t supposed to have any feelings. Or at least that’s what his first partner told him. He no longer needed to practice. The words just came out, though they still sounded hollow to Jack’s ears. “How long ago did you and Walters end your relationship?”
“I didn’t,” Storm said softly. “Mark did. He wanted his freedom, I guess.”
“To see other men?”
"How long ago was this, Mr. Storm?”
He met Jack’s gaze and his baby blue eyes were filled with an almost unbearable sorrow. “A few weeks ago. I found an airline reservation in the desk drawer. It was for a one-way ticket to Baltimore. I asked him about it and he said he was flying there to meet someone.”
Jack made notes. “And when was his ticket for?”
“Um, tonight actually. He was supposed to leave tonight.” He studied his folded hands a moment before looking up once more. “Do I need a lawyer?”
Jack gave him a reassuring police detective smile. “Not unless you have something to hide. You aren’t under arrest. You don’t have anything to hide, do you, Chad?”
“No. I didn’t kill Mark. I found him.”
He nodded. “When was the last time you saw Walters alive?”
Storm flinched. “I…last night I guess. This house is mine. I mean, I bought it when I was with the band and Mark lived here with me, but I told him he could just stay here until he left.”
“That was nice of you considering the circumstances,” Jack said dryly.
“I’ve known Mark since we were kids.” The man looked stricken. “Knew. How do you get used to it?”
“Used to what?”
“Talking about someone in the past tense. I don’t think I ever will.” Storm closed his eyes. His Adam’s apple bopped as he swallowed heavily. He buried his face in his hands then for a moment, exhaling slowly. When he looked up at Jack, his eyes were watery. “What else do you need to know?”
Jack was torn. He needed to ask a lot more questions of Chad Storm, but the man seemed at his breaking point and something about him tugged at Jack deep inside. Still, he had a job to do and that job was to find out if Chad Storm had killed his ex-lover, Mark Walters, or if not, who did.
“Chad, there you are!” A very tall, very thin, balding man with a goatee, probably in his mid-sixties, came rushing over to them and made a beeline for Chad. He shot Jack a look of disdain and grabbed Chad’s arms, hauling him out of the plastic chair and into his arms in a tight embrace. “I came over as soon as I got the message. Oh, God, it’s just terrible.”
Jack stood and cleared his throat. “And you are?”
“Ronald Epstein, a dear friend of Chad’s. And just who are you?”
“Lieutenant Jack Reeves, Homicide.”
“You’re questioning Chad without a lawyer?”
“He’s not under arrest.”
“It’s all right, Ron.” Chad pulled out of the man’s embrace and gave Jack a weak smile. “Is there any way we could continue this later, lieutenant? I’m feeling rather ill.”
“Very well. Tomorrow morning at ten?”
Chad nodded. “Yes, thank you.”
“If you have a few minutes, Mr. Epstein, I’d like to ask you a few questions.”
Epstein raised an eyebrow, but shrugged. “All right. But how about inside? I’d rather not have to look at,” he paused with a dramatic shudder and glanced toward the bloody water, “that.”