Woo hoo! I love new release days! Too bad the evil day job beckons and I can't stay home to play on the interwebz. *slight pout* But even the EDJ can't get me down completely 'cause it's new release day!
RIVER OF NEED
Copyright © SHAYLA KERSTEN, 2010
Book four, Tennessee Cops
Two years after their breakup, Detective Kyle Shelton didn’t expect to see his lying, cheating, closeted ex. Especially not behind bars for prostitution. Bailing him out is one of the stupidest things Kyle has done in a while. Although letting his ex back in his bed probably ranks higher on the dumbass scale.
Dustin Eldridge’s lying about his sexual preferences has left him with nothing. Literally. He’s lost his home, his family, his job and, worse, he’s lost Kyle. On the streets, with no one to turn to, he’s resorted to selling his body to survive. Then Kyle—of all people—comes to his rescue. Dustin can’t fix the past but maybe there’s hope for a future.
Unless Kyle really believes Dustin added serial killer to his resume along with hooker.
Note: For maximum reader enjoyment, we suggest also reading Hidden Force (Tony and Ryan) and Hidden Hands (David March) where these secondary characters were heroes.
Bleary-eyed from too little sleep and too many case files read, Detective Kyle Shelton looked for the source of the familiar voice. “Ryan.” He waved a hand in acknowledgement as Ryan Nilsson moved across the squad room.
Maybe the vice squad had picked up some information on the string of murders haunting the city. The humid heat of Memphis made the murder rate rise in the summer. Some people called it the killing season. The homicide division certainly stayed busy.
Ryan stopped near Kyle’s desk. “Tony said you’d probably still be here.” Homicide detective Tony Costa was Ryan’s lover and he was leading the Cross-Eyed Killer investigation.
Stupid name for a serial killer, but the press had a field day when a witness had spilled the beans on the killer’s signature—crosses painted in blood over the victim’s eyelids. Kind of like absolution or last rites.
Kyle glanced down at the files spread out over his desk. “Yeah. I keep thinking I’ve missed something. There has to be a connection somewhere between victims. They appear random, but something has to set off the killer.”
Two men, one twenty-two and one fifty; a woman in her thirties and an eighteen-year-old boy. No evidence of anything sexual, none of the victims apparently knew each other.
Not the same religion even though the killer’s signature appeared to have religious connotations. Only common factor was the location—near Union and Vance and from Third to the river—and the killer’s signature. They couldn’t rule out copycat killers either.
Kyle looked up. “Got something for me?”
“Not about the murders.” Ryan’s frown and the furtive way his gaze darted around the room made Kyle think this conversation needed a little privacy. “Got a minute?”
“Sure. Come on.” Kyle pushed away from his desk. Leading the way, he headed toward an empty interrogation room. He ducked into the observation side so no one could eavesdrop. With the door closed behind them, he leaned against the wall. “What’s up?”
Kyle’s breath caught in his throat but he forced air into his lungs as he faked nonchalance. His breakup with Dustin had been wrought with agony and repercussions. He hadn’t talked to him or even heard his name in nearly two years.
“What about him?” An ache started in the pit of his stomach. Please don’t let him be dead… As bad as the relationship ended, Kyle still had feelings for the asshole.
“He’s been arrested.”
Not dead. Shock mixed with relief. “For what?”
Kyle opened his mouth but nothing came out. His mouth snapped shut. After taking a deep breath, he tried again. Finally, the only thing he could think of popped out. “Are you sure it’s the same Dustin Eldridge?”
“Yes. Remember Tony and I hung out with you two a few times.”
“Right.” Of course he remembered, but his brain couldn’t conceive of his debonair, urbane lover being accused of hooking. “Any basis to the charges?”
Ryan grimaced as he half shrugged. “He propositioned an undercover. Got him on tape.”
“Fuck.” With rubbery knees, Kyle moved to the nearest chair. Dustin always did have that effect on him. Too bad he was… “Wait. Man or woman?”
“He propositioned a man or woman?”
"Man.” Ryan’s brow crinkled in a half frown. “Why?”
Kyle had never told anyone the main reason for their breakup. “He was married. We broke up because he was married. Something he forgot to tell me.” And Dustin’s wife had caught them.
“Oh.” Ryan shook his head. “I would have never…”
“Yeah. Me either.” Kyle took a deep breath. “Well, thanks for telling me.”
“No problem. I didn’t want the name to surprise you on tomorrow’s blotter report.”
“I suppose his wife’ll have him out by tomorrow.”
“I don’t think so.” Ryan’s hesitant tone made Kyle look up at his friend. “I’m guessing they aren’t together anymore. He listed his address as none and he looks like he’s been living on the streets.”
A sudden swell of emotion nearly brought Kyle to his feet, but he forced his body to stay put. He didn’t want Ryan to notice how his words affected him.
In his dreams, Kyle wanted Dustin free of his wife, even wanted him back. But being with someone closeted and on the down low was not something Kyle could live with. Ever.
“When’s his bail hearing?”
“First offense—no hearing. He’ll be released as soon as he can cough up the standard bail. But if you get him out, I doubt you’ll ever see him again. Or the bail money.” Guess Ryan wasn’t fooled.
Ryan was probably right, but Kyle couldn’t leave Dustin in jail. His mind rushed through a million scenarios—from happy reconciliation to Dustin skipping town—but he forced his thoughts to focus on the task of getting his ex-lover out of jail.
“Thanks for letting me know.” Kyle took a deep breath. He didn’t know what to expect or how he’d react to seeing Dustin again, but he was about to find out.
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