This will also give you a sneak peek at the opening of Played to Death, the book which will be out September-ish. Talked to Death is still on schedule for May, but I thought you might enjoy this bit. 🙂
“Jamie. Get up.”
I grunted and swatted at my brother Kevin’s hand. He had me by the shoulder, shaking vigorously. “Come on. We leave in an hour. Don’t you want to shower and eat before we go?”
“Mmph. Fine. Okay. Stop.” I rolled over and squinted at the clock. “It’s only six.”
“We leave at seven. Come on.” Kevin grabbed a pillow and swatted me on the butt with it. “I made breakfast.”
“What, you got the raisin bran out of the cabinet?”
I swung my legs over the bed and sat up, waiting for the head rush to clear. This was only my second night in this bed. Kevin and I had moved into this apartment three days ago. He’d brought some furniture from his old place, including a bed frame for me, but I’d had to buy a new mattress set. I was still getting used to it.
We were going hiking. Apparently this was Kevin’s usual weekend activity. We were being joined by Kevin’s partner on the police force, a guy named Pete Ferguson. Kevin had been Pete’s partner for four years, but this would be their last year together. Kevin was taking the detective’s exam soon, and Pete was finishing his masters degree in psychology with the intent of getting his Ph.D. A doctoral program was a full-time job, so he’d be leaving the force.
Pete was gay. I’d accused Kevin of trying to play matchmaker, but he’d said that Pete had a boyfriend. Kevin didn’t like the boyfriend much, but they’d been together for a while, so there wasn’t much chance of dislodging him.
Fine with me. I wasn’t in the market for a boyfriend. A year ago my boyfriend of seven years, Ethan Williams, had broken up with me and moved to Connecticut with another guy. I hadn’t recovered. I’d graduated from Oxford with my doctorate and crawled home to my dad. Kevin had finalized his divorce at about the same time. A friend had talked me into going to library school, since my dream of teaching history at the college level had been so closely connected to my life with Ethan. I’d applied to UCLA and been accepted, and Kevin and I had moved in together.
I was washing out my cereal bowl when there was a knock at the door. Kevin went to answer and I heard him say, “Hey.”
A slightly deeper voice said, “Hey. You ready to go?”
I rounded the kitchen bar and stopped short. The guy standing in the doorway was flat-out gorgeous. His body type was almost identical to Kevin’s – about 6’4″, muscular but not bulky – an athlete’s build. A baseball player’s build. He had brown hair and eyes – beautiful eyes. He turned to me and smiled, and I was nearly blinded by the brilliance of that smile.
No wonder this guy had a boyfriend. He could have anyone he wanted.
He held his hand out to me. “You must be Jamie. I’m Pete Ferguson.”
I shook his hand. “Hi, Pete. It’s good to meet you.”
“You too.” He held my hand just a moment longer than most people would have then released it. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Oh, great.” I could just imagine what Kevin had told his partner about me.
He laughed. He had a nice laugh. “Nah, it was all good.”
Kevin poked me. “Sure it was. Would I say anything bad about you?”
I rolled my eyes. “I’ve got to brush my teeth.”
Pete drove a slightly battered Jeep Cherokee that looked like it had spent some time off-road. I climbed into the back seat and folded my legs in the least uncomfortable manner. Pete glanced back at me. “Sorry. Jeeps aren’t known for their back-seat leg room.”
“It’s okay. We’re not going far, right?”
Even though I knew where Topanga Canyon was on the map, it was still surprising to me to find this kind of wilderness so close to Westwood. We climbed out into the parking lot and put on our backpacks. Kevin relaced his boots and straightened. “Ready?”
Kevin led us up the trail. The initial climb wasn’t steep. It was a beautiful day. The air quality in the basin hadn’t been too good, but out here it was clear. It didn’t take long to get to the first stopping point. There was a series of caves, then a big outcropping over them. Kevin patted it. “Welcome to Eagle Rock.”
We climbed onto the rock and I looked out over Malibu and the ocean. The view was breathtaking. The layer of haze over the basin obscured the view across LA somewhat, but I could still make out the downtown towers. I took a drink of water and considered my recent history. I hadn’t been sure that this move to LA was the right thing to do.
Right now, though, I was feeling a little better about it.