Genre: LGBT 1930's Suspense
Length: Short Novel
Price: $5.00 Info
Wealthy San Francisco playboy Brett Sheridan thinks he knows the score when he hires tough guy private eye Neil Patrick Rafferty to find a priceless stolen folio of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Brett’s convinced his partner-in-crime sister is behind the theft -- a theft that’s liable to bring more scandal to their eccentric family, and cost Brett his marriage to society heiress Juliet Lennox. What Brett doesn’t count on is the instant and powerful attraction that flares between him and Rafferty.
Once before, Brett took a chance on loving a man, only to find himself betrayed and broken. This time around there’s too much at risk.
But as the Bard himself would say, Journey’s end in lovers meeting.
“Oh darling, you didn’t.” Juliet’s expression was both amused and vexed. “A private detective?”
“If you had a better idea --” Brett drained his martini glass and set it on the table a little harder than necessary.
They were lunching at the Golden Pheasant, one of Juliet’s favorite watering holes. As usual, the place was packed. Brett would have preferred some place quiet where they could have actually talked without being overheard. Juliet wanted the baked stuffed squab chicken under glass.
“No, of course not. But a-a private eye is going to make us look ridiculous. And it’s so unnecessary.”
“Unnecessary? In three days your father is going to turn the matter over to the police.”
“But so what?” She smiled at him, though her blue eyes were puzzled. He was seeing that puzzled look more and more these days. He needed to make more of an effort. They were so close now. The wedding was less than a month away.
“We don’t need that kind of scandal right before the -- our -- wedding. That’s all.”
She studied him and then smiled, resting her hand over his clenched one. “You’re fearfully nervous about this, aren’t you, Sherry? Are you not sleeping again?”
“Of course I’m -- I’m sleeping perfectly well. You must realize how very bad this kind of thing looks, Julie. Until it’s cleared up, suspicion lies on every one of us.”
“Not on us, silly.” She was laughing at him openly now. And with good reason. His behavior must seem peculiar at the least. “Anyway, I think Father’s got it all wrong. It’s obvious that it had to be one of the servants who took the folio.” Brett stared at her with such disbelief that she made a little face. “It’s no good looking at me like that. I don’t have your pedigree, darling. I’m just a poor little daughter of the nouveau riche. I think mysteries are terribly exciting, if you want the truth. I adore Mr. Hammett’s stories. It isn’t as though the scandal has to do with us.”
He could have put his head in his hands and howled.
The waiter came with another tray of martinis. Brett ordered the squab with rice
for Juliet and the eastern choice top sirloin for himself. valencia
“Very good, sir.” The waiter took the menus.
Brett picked up his drink and swallowed half of it in a gulp. Dear God it was noisy. The babble of voices seemed to ricochet off the amber wood of the tables and chairs and ceiling. He was getting a headache.
Juliet sipped her martini. “What’s the name of this shamus that you’ve hired?”
“Rafferty. Neil Patrick Rafferty.”
“Oh. Very Irish. I suppose he’s going to stick his nose in everywhere and ask all our friends a lot of annoying and embarrassing questions?”
“That shouldn’t bother you, since you adore Mr. Hammett’s stories so much.”
It was sharper than he’d intended. Her face looked hurt for an instant. He really had to get control of himself. She was right. His nerves were shot to pieces, and he wasn’t sleeping. Hadn’t slept well for longer than he could remember. Once they were married it would be all right. Everything would be all right then.
He said reassuringly, “Mr. Rafferty came highly recommended. From Pat Constable, in fact.”
“Pat Constable? What on earth would she have needed a private eye for?”
“I’ve no idea,” he lied. “I just recalled that she once mentioned using one and that he was efficient and discreet.”
Juliet took another sip of her martini and made a little face. She didn’t really like martinis, but that was what everyone in their crowd drank. Brett stared up at the stained glass window panels of yellow and blue pheasants. Pretty birds. Not very smart. Good eating.
“I can’t wait to see Daddy’s face.” Juliet suddenly relaxed, whether due to the alcohol or his words. “Oh well, then. If Pat Constable says he’s okay, I’m sure he’s wonderful.” She took another sip and giggled. “What’s he like, your shamus?”
Brett had a sudden, shocking mental image of himself in Neil Patrick Rafferty’s brawny arms, Neil Patrick Rafferty’s hard mouth pressing his own. He felt the blood rush to his head. His heart began to pound with something close to panic. He reached for his glass and finished his drink.
He put the glass down and said indifferently, “He looks like a prize fighter. He’s got a scar on one cheek, and his nose has been broken a couple of times, I should think. And he has the palest, coldest, bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.”
“But you liked him?”
“I…didn’t think about it one way or the other. He looks like he’ll get the job done. In fact, I feel sorry for anyone who gets in his way.”
She smiled, at least partly humoring him now. “When will I get to meet him?”
Brett shook his head. “I don’t know. He wasn’t forthcoming about his methods.”
“That’s all right. I love surprises.” She was teasing. One thing he was not was surprising.
Their lunches arrived then, and she began to talk about hand-blocked wallpapers, Sanvale fabrics for drapery sets, and sterling silver coffee sets.
His mind wandered. Through the windows, he watched people hurrying along
. Watched the automobiles flashing by. The fog had lifted, and it was turning into a bright, sunny day. Still cold for June. Juliet worried a lot about the weather, theirs being a June wedding.
“Sherry, darling, I don’t think you’re listening,” Juliet said suddenly.
He quoted back, “‘The Nukraft feature of the Sealy Airlite mattress is made of patented hair and latex cushioning that prevents bunching and promotes circulation of air.’”
The thought of that mattress made his mouth dry. But it would be all right. For all her frank ways, Juliet was essentially naïve.
Juliet smiled affectionately. “I’m going to make you a wonderful wife, darling. You’ll see.”
“I know, darling,” Brett replied.