A Fresh Set of Eyes #2 David Lloyd Investigations
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by Liz Strange
Category: Romance/Gay Fiction
Description: A mother turns to David to help free her son and another young man from prison, where they have spent the last ten years for a double murder many feel they did not commit. The police investigation was spotty, the evidence non-existent, and yet someone had to pay for the vicious assault on two young brothers. Never one to shy away from a tough situation David agrees to look into the case, despite the tense situation with his partner's family and the physical and emotional needs of the former-prostitute he's taken under his wing. With so many lives on the line, David must find a way to help them all without hurting the most important person--himself.
eBook Publisher: MLR Press, LLC/MLR Press, LLC,
eBookwise Release Date: September 2012
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [402 KB]
Reading time: 258-361 min.
May 5th, 1991 2:37 am
The man struggled with his bulky load, at one time stumbling down onto his knee, bringing about a surge of pain. He didn't have time for injuries. Plowing on despite the throbbing in his lower leg he finally made it to his intended destination. The air held a chill and a funereal silence enveloped the shadowy landscape.
He knew the risk of bringing the night's end result to such a public place, but even in his fury he understood it was a better place for the discovery to be made, an area accessed by the unmonitored public. The time of morning also meant he had next to zero chance of being interrupted. The neighbourhood lay in its typical middle-class slumber, bodies tucked into beds to recharge for the next day's work or school attendance.
As he struggled with the second bundle the twine caught on his belt, and in the near complete darkness he didn't realize that his oversized buckle had been pulled loose. As he retreated back through the underbrush he also missed the piece of metal coming free and dropping to the ground. He didn't look back, and once he'd made it to his vehicle the blinding rage he'd felt earlier dissipated, making it impossible for him to even fathom how such a thing could have happened, how he could have lost control so completely. He drove home, leaving the terrible events behind.
Though he may have cleared his mind of any sense of remorse or shame, for one mother, five families, and the public consciousness, the world would never be the same.
* * * *
* * * *
The house lay in complete disarray, though David couldn't remember a time when he'd felt more at peace. After a bumpy couple of months recuperating from the gunshot wound received during the tail end of his last case, and the endless open houses that finally attracted a buyer for Jamie's downtown condo, life had begun to take on a smooth, dependable pattern. February was nearing the end of its run, a great time to tackle the home renovations the couple were currently involved in.
David could hear Jamie singing along to the classic rock station he had playing as he finished up the final coat on what would be his new home office. When last he'd peeked in on him, Jamie had been sporting a light spray of tan paint on his forearms and his sandy hair had been tousled, neither occurrence able to dim his model-class good looks. After deciding to finally move in with his long-time partner, Jamie had been full steam ahead, orchestrating the lucrative sale of his own place and the upgrades to the home he'd share with David. The house had been owned by David for more than a decade, and though he was faithful in keeping it clean and in good repair, he hadn't done much by way of improvements. His idea of home decor consisted of matching sets, and buying everything in the same neutral beige-brown colour palette. Jamie had other ideas.
"Take me down to paradise city..." Jamie wailed, bringing a grin to David's face.
He wiped a trail of sweat from the side of his face with his shirt and allowed himself a few moments to survey the work accomplished so far. He felt a surge of pride at the job he'd done replacing the flooring in the bathroom. Jamie had picked out tiles with hints of sea life visible in them, a type of natural flooring David couldn't recall the name of on a dare, but appreciated for its understated beauty. With the new vanity and toilet in place the room would be thoroughly modernized.
A hand slid into the hair on the back of his head as he knelt on the floor. He turned, finding Jamie watching him. "Nice work," he said, letting his eyes drop to David's jean-clad behind. "And other things."
David stood, laughing. "I'm busy here. I don't have time to be ogled." In truth he still found it amazing that someone as handsome as Jamie had fallen for his rugged looks and burly physique.
"That right?" He stepped closer to his partner, a teasing glint dancing in his green eyes.
David wrapped a muscled arm around Jamie's waist, pressing his mouth to the warm skin on his throat. "Okay, maybe I can take a break."
A cough behind them broke the moment. They turned to find Sean, David's brother, standing in the hallway with a fine dusting of drywall coating his hair and shirt. He had three beers in his hand, which he offered once he had their attention. Then, totally ignoring what he had just interrupted, he stuck his head into the bathroom to check out David's progress.
"This place is going to look awesome when we get done," Sean said.
David took a swig of his beer, nodding. "Yep. How's the basement going?"
"Good. Everything is sanded down and ready for primer. I was hoping I could steal Jamie so we could get the whole thing done before I bail."
"Sure. Just give me a minute to clean up the office."
Jamie left the brothers alone. Sean leaned against the doorframe, taking a long swallow from his bottle. The movement drew David's gaze to his brother's hand, now sporting a wedding band. He and his girlfriend had taken a trip to Las Vegas over Christmas break and decided to get married while they were there.
"So how's married life, little brother?"
"Good. Not much has changed really. I mean we've been living together for a couple of years now."
"Same as you two, you know. We just have paperwork."
The comment came in an off-hand manner, but made David think. He and Jamie had taken a big leap moving in together, one that he had every intention of making stick.
"All set," Jamie said, making a re-appearance.
As his brother and partner made their way downstairs he let himself reflect on how good things were going. Many emotional hurdles had been cleared in recent months, leaving the future wide open. Once Jeremy Black was taken care of, life would be perfect.
The phone rang, followed by a brief one-sided conversation from the lower level. Footsteps sounded. "David, it's for you," Jamie called up to him.
He moved into the bedroom, where he had another extension. "Hello," he said, hearing Jamie click off on the other line.
"It's Jenny," a breathy female voice said.
"Well hello sunshine. How's it going?"
"Honestly your grandmother is driving me crazy. There's only so much cookies and pep talks I can take!"
"So many," he corrected, chuckling.
"Whatever. Can you bring me over to your place for awhile?"
"Sure. I'll come get you for dinner. I have some stuff to finish up first."
"Fine. I'll go take a nap till you get here." She hung up.
Jenny was a young former prostitute that David had crossed paths with some months before. She'd been beaten horribly, a murder attempt, but managed to pull through via her unparalleled tenacity. David felt for the girl, and not only because her attempts to help his case had put her in the line of fire. She'd finally been released from the hospital about a month earlier, to move in with David's grandmother. Rhea kept an eye on the girl, making sure she ate, rested and attended all her physical therapy. David had found the girl a counselor she was still seeing, and he took that as a good sign. The next step would be to get her enrolled in an administrative course, skills she would be able to parlay into a job as David's secretary. He intended to keep her off the streets once and for all.
A couple of hours later the tiling was done. He cleaned up the scraps and tools, knowing he was far from done; grouting, trim and installations still waited, but he felt satisfied and purposeful. As he washed his hands in the kitchen sink, he knew there was no way he had the energy to cook anything for dinner. Instead he placed an order for several pizzas. He'd grab another case of beer on the way to get Jenny.
With keys in hand he started down the stairs to let Jamie know where he was going. He caught sight of his partner sitting on an overturned milk crate, laughing at a terrible Mick Jagger impression Sean was in the middle of. He looked so relaxed and happy, something David had been afraid would be difficult given how recently Jamie had made such drastic changes to his life.
Jamie looked his way. "I'm heading out to get Jenny. Listen for the door 'cause I ordered some pizza."
The other two men said goodbye and David was on his way. Looking at the gritty, slush-covered streets he prayed for a quick turn into spring. Though he didn't mind the winter season, this particular one had been grim.
Jenny came out the door and down the driveway as fast as her mending legs would take her, aided by a stark metal cane. David's grandmother rushed out after her to plop a homemade toque on the young woman's head. David couldn't help but grin at Jenny's reaction. He waved to his grandmother as she returned to the house.
"What is with that woman!" Jenny said upon entering the car. She ripped the toque off her head and threw it into the backseat.
"There are worse things than being looked after," David answered.
"Yeah," she said, flicking her hand in his direction and turning away from his gaze.
He let the matter drop. Over the preceding months he'd picked away at her suspicious and prickly demeanor, learning some alarming though not entirely surprising information abut the girl. She'd been given a tough break in life. He'd never deny that. He could understand why she found it hard to believe in David's good intentions, and why it was hard to let go of her old life.
Jamie and Sean were at the kitchen table eating when he and Jenny arrived. David dropped the case of beer he'd picked up into the fridge then joined them. His mouth watered as he grabbed a slice with the works. Jenny took a piece from the pizza with bacon and green olives that he'd ordered especially for her, giving David a small smile of thanks.
For a few moments there was no conversation, yet the feeling was not in any sense uncomfortable. In an odd way they were family, not by blood, but by circumstance and mutual appreciation. The understanding was reassuring, and not to be taken lightly.
"So, you're looking good, Jenny. Can hardly tell anything happened to you," Sean said after wolfing down six slices of pizza in quick succession.
She did look much better than the first time David had laid eyes on her. Grandma Lloyd's cooking had put some meat on her bones, which she desperately needed. Hair that had been bleached to a shocking ivory had grown out to its natural golden-brown colour, a decent cut removing several inches of damage. The bruises had faded, and without the harsh makeup that had been her go-to she was quite a pretty girl.
"Once I'm rid of this thing, I'm golden," Jenny said, referring to the cane that rested between her and Sean.
"That'll be gone sooner than you think. Gran says you're doing really well with the rehab," David said, trying to sound positive instead of condescending.
"Yeah, Ron said I should be able to move on to regular exercise in another month. Maybe I can join the gym with you guys?" She looked to David then Jamie for acquiescence.
"Sounds good to me," Jamie said.
The rest of the night passed quietly. Sean headed home after dinner, leaving the other three to watch a couple of movies. Jenny spent the night in the spare room, and though neither she nor David said as much, they were both happy for each other's company. Jenny had become the little sister David never had.
Sunday came and went in a flurry of painting and repairs. David fell into bed that night exhausted, without a hint of the turbulent events to come.