Authors: Josh Lanyon
Tags: #gay mystery
It’s moving day at Chez Holmes.
Somehow, against Kit’s better instincts, he and J.X. are setting up house together. But while J.X. is off at a mystery fiction convention, Kit unpacks a crate that should contain old china.
Within the mounds of Styrofoam popcorn is a dead body.
A very dead body.
There goes the neighborhood.
The Boy With The Painful Tattoo
Copyright (c) 2014 by Josh Lanyon
Cover Art by L.C. Chase
Edited by Keren Reed
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
Printed in the United States of America
JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
3053 Rancho Vista Blvd.
Palmdale, CA 93551
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
To Steve, who kept me up all night.
THE BOY WITH THE PAINFUL TATTOO
Holmes & Moriarity 3
ome with me, Kit,” J.X. urged.
As promising a conversational opening as that sounds, and despite the fact that we
in bed, J.X. was talking about attending a mystery fiction convention. The 19th annual Murder in Midtown was being held in Las Vegas this year.
“Nah. I don’t think so.” I scrunched the pillow into a more comfortable ball beneath my head. “There’s a hell of a lot to do here.”
No lie. It was our first morning in our new home on Chestnut Lane in San Francisco. Just the words
our new home
made me feel a little lightheaded, so it was lucky we were lying down. On a mattress on the floor of our new living room, as a matter of fact. Which I thought sort of reinforced my point.
J.X. seemed unconvinced. “Nothing that can’t wait.”
“Are you serious? Look around you.”
His warm, solemn gaze moved from my face to the stacks of boxes and crates surrounding us. The moving van delivering all my worldly goods had broken down twice on the long hot trek from Southern California. It hadn’t arrived until shortly after midnight and the movers hadn’t finished unpacking until the sun had cracked open a bleary, jaundiced eye.
“It’ll all be waiting here when we get back.”
“And so what? We’ll deal with it together.”
“Why don’t I just deal with it on my own, now, since that’s what I’d prefer?”
J.X.’s eyes, the color of warm sunshine on shadowed water, narrowed. “Okay,” he said mildly, at last. “But I think it would do you good to go to the conference.”
Yeah. Because I always have such a fabulous time at conventions and conferences—when I’m not falling over dead bodies. I snorted—which was more polite than what I was thinking—and rolled over, folding my arms around the ball of my pillow. “Our first argument in our new home. I never thought this day would come.”
At my mock-mournful tone, J.X. made a snorting sound of his own. “We’re not arguing. We’re discussing.” His hand stroked the curve of my back.
“Ah. But only because of my sunny good nature that never takes offense.” His hand made another of those slow, seductive passes down my back. I swallowed. “No matter the provocation.”
“Yeah,” J.X. murmured. “Let me see if I can provoke you a little more.”
“We don’t have time.”
“Yeah we do,” he whispered, pulling down my boxers.
“Hey!” I looked over my shoulder to see him grinning. Hair ruffled, he looked rather villainous. Not that that was a bad thing. He sucked with noisy deliberation on his index finger.
I gulped out, “You…have a plane to catch…”
I did, obeying this unsettling new dynamic developing between us whereupon I let J.X. boss me around in a way I had never before allowed anyone.
His hands parted the globes of my ass, his index finger found the puckered entrance to my body and he slipped inside. That deliberate assertion of possession was electrifying. I was instantly flushed and sweating, heart pounding in desperate need that felt all too much like anxiety.
“Yeah, you do.” His breath was heated against my ear.
And…yeah, I did.
J.X. moved his wet, slick finger teasingly, pushed deeper…deeper.
A weird sound squeezed out of me. A helpless little cry.
I wanted that touch so badly, but even as I was pushing back into it, I was trying to writhe away from it, not feel it so keenly, so intensely.
“Say it, Kit.”
Face buried in my arm, I gave a shaky laugh.
“You want me to fuck you?”
I shook my head. Yeah. Right. I didn’t want
“No?” I could hear the smile in his voice. J.X.’s probing finger found my prostate, brushed delicately, then pushed harder. Tiny bursts of color, like miniature fireworks, went off behind my eyes, snapping and sparkling all down my nervous system.
I sucked in a breath. “Oh God. God.
“Oh God!” J.X. said in a completely different tone and pulled his finger out of my butt so fast I could have sworn I heard a sound like a suction cup letting go. “What the hell? Who the hell is
I heard it then too. A businesslike rapping on the picture windows a few feet from us. A female voice yoo-hooing.
Knock. Knock. Knock
Could she see us? I wasn’t sure. Luckily we were under the blankets. Still.
The knocking was now coming from one of the large bay windows along the side of the house. Through the filmy window sheers, I could see the tip top of one of those broad, straw coolie hats some elderly folks—and outright eccentrics—use for gardening.
Mid-scramble for our clothes, J.X. and I exchanged horrified glances. He looked so stricken that I started to laugh, even as I dragged my jeans on.
“Who the hell
that?” J.X. protested again, which struck me as still funnier.
“No way.” He said doubtfully, “You think?”
“Well…no.” I climbed awkwardly—it’s not easy to go from pleasurable arousal to alarmed action in thirty seconds flat—over one of the many crates marked
. I half tripped over a rolled Persian carpet, clattered into a set of fireplace rack and accessories, and finally stumbled over to the window seat. I struggled with the catch on the window and managed to raise the sash a foot or so.
The spring morning scents of honeysuckle and freshly mown grass wafted in.
I saw a small person of indeterminate sex, dressed in baggy clothes. At first glance it appeared that one of the garden gnomes from next door had come to life. And had something to say about it.
“Good morning!” the gnome greeted me. She had one of those fluting, high voices that brought to mind Sunday school teachers and curators at the most macabre exhibits at the Tower of London. A voice like an ice pick through your left eye socket. “Welcome to the neighborhood. So sorry to disturb you on your first morning, but the movers must have broken one of the sprinkler heads along your front walk.”
As I seemed to be missing the point, she said kindly, “Water is shooting up like a geyser out there. There’s a drought going on, you know.”
She was probably in her sixties, but unlike my former mentor Anna Hitchcock, no effort here had been made to stave off the ravages of time. Not that she looked ravaged. Beneath the wide brim of her hat I could just make out twinkling blue eyes in a round and rosy face.
“Hell,” I said. “Okay. Thanks for letting us know.” Not twenty-four hours in the new place and it was already falling down around our ears. I hate to say I told you so—well, no. Actually, I kind of like to say I told you so. I couldn’t wait to tell J.X.
I told you so!
She offered a small but capable hand. “Emmaline Bloodworth. I’m on your left.”
Proof of my distraction, I actually glanced to my left. “You are? Are you?”
“I live in the house to your left.” She was still offering a doll-sized hand, and I leaned down to take it. She shook hands firmly.
“Christopher Holmes.” I released her, started to retreat, but by then J.X. was behind me so I backed my ass firmly into his crotch, which pretty much illustrated the current state of affairs at #321 Chestnut Lane.
“Ooof,” J.X. steadied us both with his hands on my hips.
The most alarming part was my body’s instinctive reaction to the feel of his still-partial erection through both his jeans and my own. That level of awareness, of desire, of—oh God—of
was not normal, not natural. Not for me.
“Hello there,” Emmaline greeted him. “We keep missing each other, but I’ve seen you coming and going this past week.”
More going than coming
. I didn’t say that, obviously.
J.X. joined me in the open window and shook hands with Emmaline. “J.X. Moriarity. Kit and I are—”
“We’ve got a broken sprinkler,” I interrupted.
“I heard. I’ll take a look.”
“No. You’ve got a plane to catch. I’ll deal with it. But before I turn off the water, were you going to take a shower?”
J.X. looked over his shoulder for a clock that was not there. He felt around his jeans’ pockets for his phone. Also not there.
Emmaline checked her wristwatch. “It’s nine forty-five.”
J.X. sucked in a breath. “I guess I’m not showering. Good thing it’s a short flight.”
“I can show you where to turn off the water,” Emmaline told me.
“Thanks. I’ll meet you out front.”
J.X. caught my arm as I moved away from the open window. “What if I throw some things in a bag for you? It’s just for the weekend. We can deal with this crap when we get back.”
“Now you’re talking crazy,” I scoffed. “If anything, this should indicate why we can’t both take off in the middle of moving in together.” I was smiling because he had to know I was right. I now had an excellent, irrefutable reason for not going with him. I pushed him toward the doorway and the curving, walnut staircase beyond. “
miss that plane.”