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In the Blink of an Eye (MM)

JMS Books LLC

Heat Rating: SIZZLING
Word Count: 35,258
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Four men whose lives intertwine: Craig Hudson, the manager of a used bookstore in New Orleans; Scott Reed, Craig's boyfriend, who vanishes in the blink of an eye while celebrating his birthday with friends; Kevan Martel, a small-time private investigator, hired by Craig to find Scott; and Zoran, the one responsible for Scott's disappearance.

Will Craig be able to find Scott with Kevan's help? And if they do, what will happen to the growing attraction developing between them? Meanwhile, can Scott survive what Zoran has done to him? If he does, will Zoran regret it?

Excerpt

Kevan heard the waiting room door open and went out to see who was there.

"Mr. Martel?" a good-looking man Kevan figured was close to his own age asked.

"Yes. May I help you?"

"I don't know. I hope so." The man looked around and Kevan had a feeling he wasn't terribly impressed with what he was seeing. Not too surprising, since the walls were institutional beige, with two chairs and a short, brown sofa along one of them. A desk, which would have been for a receptionist, if he'd had one, faced the landing doorway, while the doorway to his office was opposite the seating area. Kevan knew that, with his scruff of a beard, he fit right in with the ambiance. Every morning, he vowed it was time to get rid of it -- and didn't.

"Only one way to find out. Tell me your problem," Kevan replied. "And your name would help."

"Craig Hudson."

"Nice to meet you. I'm Kevan, with an 'a'." Kevan gestured toward his office. "Let's go in there and you can tell me why you think you need my services."

Kevan was aware that his office wasn't much more impressive than the waiting room, but at least the walls were a decent blue. His desk was old, antique in fact, and took up a good portion of the right half of the room. He gestured to the chair in front of it, while talking his seat behind it.

"Now, what's the problem?" he asked.

Craig took a deep breath. "My boyfriend is missing." From the look on his face, Kevan figured he both worried about that, and about how Kevan would react to the fact he had a boyfriend. Of course, being New Orleans, he shouldn't be.

"How long has he been gone?" Kevan asked, starting to take notes.

"Since last Friday night. We went to a club, to celebrate his birthday. Around, oh I guess one-fifteen or so, he said he had to use the men's room. I haven't seen or heard from him since then. No one has. Well, at least none of our friends who were there, or his parents."

"Have you filed a missing persons report?"

Craig nodded. "The officer didn't seem too interested. I mean, he took the information but ..." He spread his hands.

"Your boyfriend is an adult, and I presume in his right mind, so I'm not surprised. What's his name, for starters?"

"Scott Alan Reed. He's twenty-five."

Kevan wrote that down. "Do you have a picture of him?"

"Yes." Craig took out his wallet. "I gave the officer two of them. This is the last one. At least the last one I have with me at the moment." He handed Kevan a photo.

It showed a good looking man with blond hair, perhaps a bit too long in Kevan's opinion, and pale blue eyes. A definite contrast to Craig's shorter brown hair and hazel eyes.

"Where does he work?"

"At a souvenir shop in the Quarter." Craig gave him the address.

"Have you talked with anyone there to see if they've heard from him?"

"I called, Saturday afternoon," Craig replied. "He hadn't shown up for work, or called in."

Kevan added that to his notes. "You said none of his friends have heard from him."

"No, they haven't. It's like he vanished off the face of the earth."

"How were you and he getting along?" Kevan asked.

"Fine. We never really argued. It just wasn't us. Friday night Scott was happy and having fun at the club. We both were."

"How long have you been together?"

"Umm, a little over two years. He came into the bookstore where I work, we got to talking, and pretty soon he was a regular. Eventually, I asked him out, he accepted, and things progressed from there."

Kevan jotted that down before asking, "Are you living together?"

"No, but we'd been talking about it."

"So you had a pretty solid relationship."

"Yes," Craig replied emphatically.

"All right. Back to the night of the party. Which club?"

"The Avenue."

"I know it. Nice place. So, according to you, he went to use the restroom at --" Kevan checked his notes, "-- one-fifteen. How long before you missed him?"

"About twenty minutes, I guess. Janie, she's one of our friends who was there, suggested maybe he'd gone outside to get some fresh air. I didn't see him do that, but the place was crowded."

"It usually is," Kevan said.

"Yeah. So, anyway, I tried calling him rather than searching for him. It went to his voicemail. I asked Felix, the doorman, if he'd seen Scott leave. He said he hadn't, and he knows him, and me. We go there pretty often. While I was doing that -- and then while I went outside to check the car, just in case -- everyone else was looking for him inside the club. No luck." Craig sighed, then grimaced. "I've come up with a million scenarios about what could have happened, but none of them make sense."

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