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Authors: Keta Diablo

Tags: #Keta Diablo, #crossroads, #phaze books, #suspense, #homoerotic, #baltimore

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BOOK: Crossroads Revisited
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Frank’s dismal musings were interrupted
by Jeffords when he entered Grace’s outer sanctuary. “McGuire, long time no
see.”

“Not long enough,” Frank whispered under
his breath before turning to the men with a smile. “Jeffords, how’s life?”

“Ugly, Frank, nastier than ever.” Jeffords’
eyebrows lowered in remembrance of the man beside him. “This is Hayworth,
Rueben Hayworth, lead agent out of the Washington agency.”

Hayworth extended his hand. “McGuire.”

Nothing about the young man squealed
FBI. Handsome, with blond hair and eyes the color of gun-metal, along with an
aloof air, set him apart from the other agents Frank had met over the years.
The man reeked of poise and confidence for one so young.

“FBI, and all the way from Washington?”
Frank said, offering his hand. “Someone must be stirring up a ruckus in
Baltimore.”

“Come on now, Frank, don’t start with
that baloney. You know why we’re here,” Jeffords said with a gentle nudge to
his shoulder.

“Not officially, but I read the
newspaper.” Frank turned to Grace. “How about some coffee?”

“It’s brewing, Frank. I’ll be in with a
carafe in two minutes. Mr. Jeffords, Mr. Hayworth, do either of you take cream
or sugar?”

Jeffords shook his head and Hayworth
held up two fingers. “Cream, thank you, ma’am.”

“This way,” Frank said, leading them
into his office. “Have a seat.”

Hayworth and Jeffords sat in front of
his desk. The agent took in his surroundings, typical of every FBI man Frank
had ever met. Jeffords crossed his ankles and leaned back in the chair. Frank
didn’t dislike Jeff Jeffords. On the contrary, he found him genial enough, but
the man annoyed the piss out of him and at times seemed denser than swamp moss.

“Okay, here’s the deal on this one,
Frank,” Jeffords said, pausing for a moment when Grace came through the door
with the coffee. “I faxed the specifics on The Black Rail case to the FBI when
we closed out the case and Agent Hayworth picked up on your name. He’s read
every one of your notes, Frank, beginning to end, knows you took a bullet in
the line of duty.”

Frank was all in favor putting Jeffords
in his place, and reminding him he didn’t take the bullet for the Department.
Remembering his manners and his guest, he looked out the window and said, “I
hoped to never hear the name of that file again.”

“In any event, I did read the file.”
Reuben’s voice pulled Frank back to the conversation. “And here we are a year
later with another dilemma on our hands.”

“Dilemma?” Frank asked.

“Yes,” Hayworth said calmly. “The five
college students who turned up dead in the Patuxent River.”

“Not the Little Patuxent this time,”
Jeffords said. “The big river.”

Frank rolled his eyes. Didn’t he just
tell Jeffords he’d read the newspaper reports? “And?”

“Unlike local opinion,” Jeffords added,
“we don’t believe there’s another serial killer on the loose.”

Hayworth came to his feet, poured a cup
of coffee, and watched Jeffords’ hand movements as he talked to Frank.

“You know how college kids are,
drinking, binging, carousing into the wee hours of the night. I’ve looked at
every case in detail, and it’s quite simple,” Jeffords added boastfully. “They
slammed down one too many tequilas, left the bar and walked into the river.”

“They weren’t all at the same bar,”
Frank reminded him.

“No, they weren’t, but the river runs
the length of all the bars they frequented,” Hayworth said.

“Don’t you find it strange it’s only
been men, and all five walked into the river at different locations?”

“What are you insinuating, McGuire?”
Hayworth settled into his chair again. “Don’t tell me you’re buying this bull
that there’s a killer on the loose again, only now he isn’t targeting Goth
girls, he’s picking gay college students?”

“What did you say?” Frank leaned in over
his desk.

“You didn’t know that, did you?”
Jeffords said with a smirk. “Yep, light in the loafers, every one of ’em. We
kept that little tidbit out of the papers, and you can bet their parents aren’t
going to be spreading the news.”

“If they even know,” Hayworth added.

Jeffords annoyed the hell out of Frank
at times—the man
and
his departmentalized labels. Light in the loafers?
In Frank’s opinion, Jeffords was light in the brain cell department. While
squashing an uncontrollable urge to reach over and strangle the little
pipsqueak, Jeffords’ smart-ass phrase sunk in. So
that’s
what the latent
dreams and images meant. Five gay men were dead. Frank’s stomach clenched and
Rand’s face rose before him.

Sick.

He was going to be sick. He’d been down
this road many times, and his Inner Spirit never failed him. He didn’t always
know the exact nature of the messages, but his subconscious never fell short of
its goal—to rouse his precognitive abilities.

He wanted the men gone from his office,
now, this minute. He needed to dim the lights, light a candle or two, and
connect with a higher level of consciousness, take a peek into the future.
Damn, he should have done it days ago when the images nagged at his addle-pated
brain. Too wrapped up in his feelings for Rand and the kid’s irrational
behavior, he’d failed to heed the warnings.

Jeffords narrowed his eyes. “McGuire…you
still with us?”

“Yeah, I mean, yes, I’m listening. What
does your visit have to do with me?”

Jeffords looked at Hayworth, and Frank
couldn’t help but wonder about the agent’s cool, collective demeanor. He didn’t
seem eager to offer an opinion, and Frank really wondered about that.

“We, that is, the Department and the
FBI, hope you’ll attend the meeting tomorrow night at City Hall to settle the
natives down, convince them there is not another maniac prowling the city, but
rather it’s the result of overindulgence.”

“Why would they listen to me, Jeffords?”

“Emily thinks they will.”

Frank nearly came out of his chair.
“Emily…Quinn Brennan’s widow, Rand and Marlow’s mother? What has she got to do
with this?”

“Haven’t you spoken to her lately?”
Jeffords asked.

“Last week. Why?”

Another lopsided grin split Jeffords’
lips. “You probably don’t know, but the last kid we found is the son of Emily
Brennan’s best friend.”

Frank picked up the newspaper and
glanced at the headlines:
Another College Student Missing.
And next,
Frank looked at the young man’s picture. “Thomas Kincaid? This kid?”

“Yep, found his body early this morning.
Emily and Martha Kincaid were high school friends. Emily wants you brought in,
and the pressure is on. She claims the parents don’t trust the police or the
FBI and they want a neutral to look things over, meet with them, and deliver
the facts straight up.”

Hayworth cleared his throat. “Jeffords
tells me you deal in a form of clairvoyance?”

Frank shot Jeffords a stern glare and
turned to the man. “I’m not a clairvoyant and Jeffords knows it. I dabble, and
I want to stress
dabble
, in perceptions, a skill learned through
meditation and personal discipline. It’s not recognized by the medical community,
it’s a…a―”

“You commune with the dead, huh, Frank?
You can talk to spirits and ghosts. Tell Reuben, he’s already read your file
anyway.”

Hayworth studied him, and Frank couldn’t
imagine what thoughts must be flitting through the man’s procedural brain. He
held no illusions about the FBI’s opinions on clairvoyants, spirit walkers, and
the all the other derivatives. Hell, the government might be out a job if they
relied on mystical beings to solve their crimes.

“I’ve read it, McGuire. I take my career
very seriously and follow proper procedure in every regard, but I’m not a
skeptic by nature. That is, I embrace mysticism and non-conventional theories
on a personal level.”

Frank looked into his eyes and knew the
man spoke the truth. People didn’t lie about or encourage such philosophies if
they weren’t learned about them.

“Whether you believe it or not, the FBI
has worked with several psychics in solving some of our most difficult cases.”

“I repeat, Hayworth, I’m not a psychic
or a clairvoyant.”

Smoke-gray eyes met his. “I know what
you are, McGuire, I’ve read the file, remember? Numbers or letters come to you
through dreams, but they’re convoluted. You have learned through mediation how
to connect with your inner spirit, tap into a wellspring of spiritual energy.
This inner spirit performs as a catalyst to connect with an even higher level
of consciousness. Scenes flash through your head akin to water rushing over
rocks.”

Damn, the man had smarts…and moxie. He’d
just repeated the notes Frank left in the file on the The Black Rail case,
verbatim. “Cut to the chase, what exactly do you want from me?”

“Your time,” Hayworth said. “We’ll pay
you, of course, to go over the file, see if Jeffords and his Department are
right—there is no serial killer on the loose. The young men died after
consuming too much alcohol, at least that’s the unofficial statement for the
time being. They left the bar, lost their way, and walked into the Patuxent.”
He nodded toward Jeffords. “That’s his summation.”

“And if I don’t believe the reports or
agree with his assessment?”

Hayworth rose and Jeffords followed
suit. “Then, my friend, we have a serious problem.”

Frank put his hand out. “Give me the
file.”

“I didn’t bring it. Wasn’t sure you’d
agree to look it over. Would it be all right with you if I dropped it off this
evening, say, around six o’clock?”

So much for his night of pleasure with
Rand. “I won’t be at my office at six.” Frank handed him his card. “Here’s my
home address. Be on time, I have plans later this evening.”

“You can count on it,” Hayworth said and
turned toward the door with Jeffords on his heels.

Frank resisted the urge to jump up and
punch Jeffords in the face when he called out over his shoulder, “I knew we
could count on you again, Frank. See you tomorrow night at the meeting.”

 

*
* * *

 

No sooner had the men left his office
when Grace buzzed Frank on the intercom. “Emily Brennan is on the line.”

“Thanks, Grace,” Frank said with an
exasperated sigh. He didn’t need to hear from Emily today of all days. There
would be questions about Rand, hysterics over the death of her best friend’s
son, and no doubt she’d want to corner him about the meeting at City Hall
tomorrow night. He punched line one. “How’s the most beautiful woman in the
world?”

“Frank, I’ve been trying to reach you
all morning.” Yep, hysterics laced her sultry voice.

“Calm down, Emily. I’m sorry, I turned
my cell off this morning until I left for the office.”

“I know. Grace couldn’t reach you either
and you were late getting into the office. Is something wrong, Frank? Is Rand
in trouble?”

Damn, he didn’t want to get into the
alcohol and barely-passing-grades crisis right now. She had enough to deal
with. “No, Rand is fine.” His mind raced while she drew a deep breath of
relief. “An FBI agent, accompanied by one of Baltimore’s finest, showed up at
my office this morning.”

“Let me guess,” she said sarcastically. “Sergeant
Jeffords?”

“The one and only.”

“Makes you thankful he wasn’t on the
force when you were, huh?”

“Ah, he’s an okay guy, just a little
misdirected at times.”

“So you know why I’m calling. I hear it
in your voice, and that you can
attribute to being Quinn’s partner on
the force.”

Frank chuckled. “We do go back a long
way, don’t we?”

“Eight years, my knight in shining
armor.” She sighed again. “Don’t know how I would have survived without you
since Quinn died.”

“Oh-oh, guilt just took up residence in
my gut.”

“If you’re talking about the five years
you were MIA, we’ve discussed it, and I’ve forgiven you. I know you loved
Quinn, as you do Marlow and Rand.”

Ah, his chance to change the subject.
“How is Marlow these days, doing well in school?”

“Her senior year and you know how that
goes—too many parties, too many boyfriends, and too little studying. It’s a
battle, but we’re getting on fine. She misses Rand not living at home, as do I,
but I know the best place for him after losing his father is with you.”

He closed his eyes. “Emily, I’m not
Rand’s father. We’ve never talked about it outright, but surely you
know―”

“Stop right there. My mother said I
arrived during the night, but not last night. I know Rand struggles with his
sexual identity—have known it for years. Quinn knew it, too. We talked about it
on many occasions.” He pictured tears brimming in the green eyes, an exact
replica of Rand’s. “And I know you’ve warred with the very same issue.” An
ironic laugh followed her words. “If one has a sense of humor, it is rather
comedic, don’t you think? The virile, tough street cop turned PI, the man women
wet their panties over, is gay.”

BOOK: Crossroads Revisited
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