GENRE: Gay Mystery Erotic Romance
LENGTH: 30,514 words
When married private investigators Brent and Quinn Collins are hired to find Andrew, a young man who has disappeared after heading to Idaho Springs, little do they know they will become embroiled in murder. Two other young men have gone missing under similar circumstances and their bodies found buried in the mountains outside of Denver.
The Collins’ investigations soon bring to light another similarity between the murdered men: they were all slender, effeminate, and gay. After Andrew's body is discovered, Brent and Quinn think they may know who is responsible for the hitchhiker killings.
But when Quinn goes undercover, he finds himself in much deeper waters than he expected. All they have to do is prove it ... without ending up dead themselves.
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.
“First stop, Andrew’s apartment?” Quinn asked after Mrs. Taylor left.
“Yep, but not for a couple of hours. Presuming his roommates hold normal jobs, they probably won’t be home until sometime after five.”
“Or they’ll have left by then, if, like Andrew, they’re restaurant workers.”
Brent snorted. “With our luck ...”
“So grab your jacket and let’s move.”
“Yes, bossman.” Brent ducked when Quinn took a swipe at him, only to find himself being hugged by his husband.
“You know this is a democracy. You can always say no,” Quinn said, giving him a fast kiss.
“I never say no to you,” Brent responded. “Well, almost never, after the first couple of weeks.”
The two men had met when they’d been students at UCD, working on their bachelor degrees in criminal justice. Brent was a year ahead of Quinn and had taken the younger man under his wing -- and into his bed two weeks later when they discovered there was an undeniable attraction between them.
Right after graduation, Brent had applied for and received his private investigator’s license -- as had Quinn a year later. They moved in together and set up their business. At first it had been called Collins and Brannon Investigations.
Then, late one evening after celebrating the successful conclusion of their first truly difficult case, Brent had gotten down on one knee and asked Quinn to marry him. Quinn gleefully accepted.
In 2010, there were only a few states where gay marriage was legal. Luckily, New Hampshire, where Quinn had grown up, was one of them. They flew out, after ‘warning’ Quinn’s family why they were coming. The wedding was all they hoped it would be, thanks to Quinn’s parents. The party afterward was a rousing celebration lasting until early the next morning. When it was over and they had recovered, Quinn and Brent returned to Denver -- married men and ecstatically so.
Brent paused at Milly’s desk to tell her where they were going, asked her to send Mrs. Taylor the form she needed to fill out, and then he and Quinn headed to the garage where they parked their car.
Quinn wondered, as they pulled up in front of Andrew’s residence, if Mrs. Taylor considered the place a big step down from her home. It wasn’t actually in an apartment building. The address was a small house in a less than classy neighborhood at the edge of the downtown area. While the lawn was mowed, the bushes in front of the front porch were in definite need of trimming, and the paint on the porch uprights was beginning to fade.
There were four mailboxes by the front door. Two were for the ground floor, the others for the second floor -- one of which listed three names, Brown, Wilcox, and Taylor.
“Best bet, the house is broken into units,” Quinn commented with a smirk.
Beside the mailboxes was a row of buzzers, with names below each one. Brent pressed the one for Taylor and company.
“Yo,” a disembodied voice answered after a short wait.
Quinn gave Brent a thumb’s-up before saying, “I’m looking for Andrew Taylor.”
“Not here,” the voice replied.
“I’m here on behalf of his mother. May I talk to you about him?”
“I mean face to face.”
There was a long pause, then he was told to take the stairs at the end of the hallway up to the second floor, and the buzzer sounded to unlatch the front door. When they got inside, a light smell of pot greeted them. It got heavier as they walked up the stairs. A young man -- Quinn guesstimated he was barely out of his teens -- waited for them in the upper hallway.
“You didn’t say there were two of you,” the guy said.
“You didn’t ask. Which one are you? Brown or Wilcox?”
“Wilcox. Mike Wilcox. Who are you?”
“Quinn and Brent Collins,” Quinn replied. “We’re private detectives, hired by Mrs. Taylor.”
“Just like on TV, huh? You might as well come in, since you’re here.” Mike opened the door right behind him.
If asked, Quinn would have admitted he was surprised when they entered the apartment. The living area was neat, with decent if not fancy furniture. Three doors led off it to -- Mike showed them -- the kitchen and two bedrooms.
“This one’s mine and Vick’s,” Mike said about the bigger one. It had two beds with a dresser between them.
Andrew’s bedroom was sizably smaller, and not nearly as neat. Clothes were piled on the only chair, and the bed had obviously been ‘made’ by pulling the spread over tumbled sheets. A bong stood on the small dresser along one wall. No real shock in Quinn’s opinion, since Mrs. Taylor said Andrew was open about indulging.
“Do you mind answering a few questions about Andrew?” Brent asked Mike when they returned to the living room.