A Great Night for a Killing by missfae

A Great Night for a Killing - missfae

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This series is dedicated to Peja who wondered if there is any fan fiction based on OTR: Old Time Radio. Detailed Author's Notes and warnings at end of story.

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Cascade, midnight, the year 2135. The full moon resembled an orange- bright and juicy-looking- as it shone down on the empty streets. The night, surprisingly clear, enabled one to almost count the myriad stars that littered the sky. Cascade in the summer--you couldn’t beat it. The average temperature was around 65 degrees; however, this had been an unusually hot summer. In fact, as I loosened my tie, the temperature on the floating talking signs announced “it is a sweltering 95°.” I fanned myself as I wished I had an iced coffee.

I walked the streets, an observer of the baser elements of society. I enjoyed these late-night promenades; in fact, if such a thing were possible, I think I would make a great vampire. Jim, however, hated it when I went out alone at these late hours. I moved past clubs and other forms of nocturnal entertainment--some more reputable than others--that the citizens of this fair city had devised to keep themselves amused. The flashing signs displayed such names as, The Pussy Cat Club, El Dorado, and The P and M Lounge, while other signs announced, GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS in big bold neon letters.

I knew all these places… it’s my business.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, who I am. Well, allow me to introduce myself, Blair Jacob Sandburg, PI, at your service. I own and operate “Sandburg and Associate, PIs for Hire.” I’m not only a Shamus; I am the local Shaman Shamus and Mage. Try saying that fast five or six times. Being a mage comes from my mom’s side of the family. The associate is the aforementioned, Jim, James Ellison, my bodyguard and lover. We deal in crimes that involve both the natural and the preternatural... my ad in the Yellow Pages says so. It also reads, ‘No job is too tough or too dangerous for Sandburg and Associate. I have to say that advertisement has been pushed to the limit. Ah well…

The world is a fascinating combination of the old and the new. It is no stranger to see a teen zipping around in a hovercraft than to see another driving around in a 1948 Studebaker. Some citizens enjoyed watching the hovering televiewers, while others still preferred the smell of fresh newsprint. Yet none of this was odd. The world had always been a mixture of modern and antiquity, it was the easy acceptance of the preternatuaral that made this century unique. It started in the 2050s with the discovery of Sir Richard Burton, The Sentinels Of Paraquay. Sir Burton explained that Sentinels were highly developed humans who were the next step in the evolutionary chain. This explanation made it easy for mankind to view those with preternatural abilities as the next level. In fact, one could say it opened a preternatural floodgate.

Once the existence of Sentinels was verified, other denizens came out of the woodwork demanding to be recognized. Nightwalkers, shape shifters, trolls, and the semi-dead were among the many demanding to be acknowledged as full-citizens, with the same rights conferred upon the so-called normals. Ten years, and many legal battles later, the preternaturals were given these inalienable rights- at least in the United States. I’d have to get back to you on the other countries.

Oddly enough, it was later proven that Sentinels, for the most part, were not preternatural beings, but humans with advanced senses. But there were enough of them who had at least preternatural genes in their family tree that the argument soon became moot.

But I digress… I made my way to an all-night coffee house I knew at the corner of Main and Vine. The coffee wasn’t the best, but it was always fresh and the service was always friendly. I stepped into the small shop and breathed in the aroma of freshly baked peach pie.

“Blair, sugar. Good to see you again.”

“Good to see you, Serena.”

Even in the requisite pink coffee shop uniform, Serena Johnson was a stunner. 5'2", but instead of eyes of blue, they were deep brown and almond-shaped. Her skin was a deep, rich ebony, and a tight cap of black curls crowned this vision of perfection. I could also personally attest that she looked even better out of it. Damn, she gave Jim some serious competition for my affections. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jim, but ours is an open relationship. He didn’t ask me about the other people that I saw from time to time, and I didn’t volunteer the information.

Anyway, to return to the luscious Serena, she was a beauty; a beauty that unfortunately had been able to resists my best efforts to steal her away from this luxurious establishment.

Whenever I would ask her, Serena would laugh and say, “Now, handsome, you know I can pick up more gossip on the street than in a musty detective’s office. On the other hand, if you’re willing to marry me and make me an honest woman…”

Ahhhh, sweet temptation, thy name is Serena. For now, she was a great friend and occasional lover, who was willing to come into the office, from time to time, to help me with paperwork and bookkeeping. As I continued to muse, she sat a cup in front of me. Naturally, I had to flirt with her.

“Serena my love, I finally decided to take you up on your offer.”

“What offer is that, sweetie?” she asked reaching for the coffee pot.

“Why… to make you an honest woman, of course.”

Serena grinned while pouring my coffee. “Blair Sandburg, for a rich white kid, you are one strange bird.” She placed a large slice of the peach pie alongside the coffee. I knew the pie would be as succulent as it looked.

“Rich, white, Jewish kid,” I corrected before picking up the steaming coffee and taking a sip.

She rolled her eyes as she fanned herself-and moved to serve a customer who was perusing the menu.

I chuckled as I cut into my pie. Savoring the flavor, I reflected on the mystery of a rich kid who wanted to be a PI. Why did people think that the occupation was the last refuge for disgruntled ex-police officers or government agents? Or could it be the fact that I chose to keep the earnings from my detective agency separate from the rest of my life?

I loved having money and I enjoyed all the privileges associated therewith, but that money was from mom and dad. The agency—that was my baby; something I worked hard to establish, and when business was off, we were in the red. On the other hand, when business was good, I had cash to tip my informants better, and I even have enough left to put into a rainy day account. Unfortunately, at this very moment, business was so far in the red, that it could have been swimming in a sea of blood. Lucky for me, there was always someone whose spouse was cheating, or whose business partner was doctoring the books. I had no worries that business wouldn’t pick up soon.

I looked up as Serena finished serving her customer and came back to talk to me.

“It has to be 90 degrees out there. How can you drink coffee when it’s this hot?”

Taking her hand in mine, I kissed her palm. “I was thinking of an iced coffee, but that wouldn’t do justice to your juicy, sweet pie. Besides…” I leaned in and looked into her eyes. “I don’t come in for the coffee. I come in for the scenery.”

I was sure she blushed as she pulled back; her gentle laughter tickled my ears. “Don’t let that big ole hunk of man hear you say that or your ass will be in a sling.”

“Jim? He’s nothing but a huge pussy cat.” I grinned as I cut into the slice of pie. “Besides, he knows I have a lot of love inside me and that I’m always willing to share.”

Serena was walking away to serve another customer, but her muttered, “That’s what you say,” was quite clear.

As I continued savoring my pie, the chorus from On “The Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe,” burst forth from my inner coat pocket. Reaching in, I flipped open my cell phone and grinned at the display.

The Panther.

I brought the phone up to my ear. “Jim.”

“Sandburg, where the hell are you?”

I frowned at Serena who was chatting up the other customer and wondered if he would look good as an aardvark. “I’m sitting in an all-night dive watching the soon-to-be mother of my children flirting with a man who’s not me.” The man quickly looked back at his menu; Serena stuck out her tongue at me and I shivered, remembering what that tongue could do. Is that all you think about, I silently chastised my wayward member; he had the good sense not to answer me.

Jim blew out a frustrated breath. “Tell Serena ‘hi’ for me.”

“Serena, Jim wants to know if you’re interested in a three-way.”

“Only- and I mean only- if the two of you buy a sturdier bed,” she tossed over her shoulder as she moved to place the customer’s order.

I was sure that the poor man didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or turned on by the exchange. However, a surreptitious glance to his lap proved that it was more a case of the latter than of the former.

Just as I was about to relax, foolishly thinking that I had diverted the lecture to come, Jim picked up his tirade, as if the last minute or so hadn’t happened.

“Sandburg, what did I tell you about running around the town, alone, at this time of night?”

“Jim-”

“You are aware of the perpetual bull’s eye painted on your back?”

“Jim-”

“How many times do I have to pull…”

I closed my eyes and gave up any attempts to interrupt his reprimand. When Jim got like this, I knew that his anxiety for my safety was manifesting itself. Nevertheless, it could be very frustrating. ‘You’d think that I don’t know how to take care of myself.’

“…and another thing…”

Was he still talking? I grinned ruefully, while chewing on another forkful of my pie. Serena came and brought me a fresh cup of Joe. She gave me her, ‘you’ve been a bad boy,' look and laughed when I rolled my eyes. As she walked away, I made sure to check out her shapely behind as I tuned out my partner.

James Ellison, late of the Cascade Police Department, could be a terrible pain in the butt. Even now, I could conjure up his face. His lantern jaw was probably clenched so tight that he was wearing down the enamel on his perfect, white teeth. We'd met five years ago, when his boss, Simon Banks, contacted me in a last ditch effort to help his wayward Sentinel control his recently re-awakened senses.

I grinned as I remembered that time.

***

I glanced down at the file in my hand, then looked up, searching for the room number. “Detective James Ellison, aged 34,” I muttered looking for the room number.

Walking down the long hallway, I finally saw the correct exam room, 104B. It was my intention to get in, assess the man, and find him a guide to help him bring his senses under control. I wasn't prepared for the sight that met my eyes. Talk about your Adonis! Six feet of masculinity, a broad chest that would make a comfortable pillow, slim hips that begged to be gripped while I—that is someone -- pounded into him, and eyes so blue a person could do a swan dive into them. Being the erudite person that I was, words had always come easily to me; unfortunately,this time they decided to keep their distance.

“Detective James Ellison?” I couldn’t believe I was squeaking, so I cleared my throat and tried again, “Detective James Ellison.” There… that was better. The glare intensified as a knot formed in his strong jaw line, a jaw line that I desperately wanted to nibble and lick. Undeterred by the alpha male show, I stuck out my hand. “Blair Sandburg, Shaman.”

“I was told that you were a Dick.”

I grinned inwardly, “Yep, that’s what people tell me.”

A large hand reached up to scrub across his face. “I mean as in Private Detective, wise-ass.”

I graced him with a lazy smile. “I love it when you talk dirty to me; it leaves me all tingly inside.” That broke the ice and I felt his tension melt away.

“You are as weird as they say.”

I desperately wanted to ask who “they” were, but I winked. “I try my best. Now, what can I do for you? ”

Jim’s eyes closed to slits, his head tilted back, and he regarded me from under the lowered lids. “You’re supposed to be the expert here, Chief, you tell me.”

I could see that he was going to be a tough nut to crack. "Your boss is worried about you. He told me that you are having problems with your senses.” I opened the folder, although I had no need; I knew all the facts contained therein.

He shrugged. “On and off.”

“Tell me about it.”

“You tell me.”

I combed my hands through my hair, resisting the urge to pull out a handful. Talk about dealing with cops. “Your sight and hearing have been off the charts lately. Smells have been giving you headaches, and anything you eat tastes too highly seasoned.”

Ellison cocked his head to the side, and then nodded.

“You’ve been extra touchy feely, with most materials proving to be an irritant to your skin.”

There went that flexing jaw muscle again. This guy’s dental bills must have been astronomical.

I closed the folder and laid it on the examination table. “I know the reason for your problems.”

Jim stared at me, his expression one of suspicion. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. Sir Richard Burton-”

"The actor? Geez, what has he to say about anything? He's been dead for years!"

I gave him a look. "If you'll permit me to finish? I was referring to Sir Richard Burton, the explorer, num-nuts. He talks about a type of guardian…a Sentinel-”

Jim held up a hand, palm out. “What a minute.” He took in a deep breath, held it and then blew it out. His breath smelled of peppermint. “I’ve read about those guys. Everyone in law enforcement has to keep up with preternatural law and the handling of preternatural beings.” He shook his head. “They’re some type of freak. No way am I one of those.”

Now it was my turn. I breathed in, held it for a ten count and slowly let my breath out. ‘All right Sandburg, he’s going to be one of those guys, the kind that anything outside of their definition of the ‘norm’, is a thing to be squashed. You can handle him; just dazzle him with your brilliance.’

“Jimmm.” Dammit, had I just whined? What is it with my voice today? I tried again. “Jim, if you’ve read about them, then you’re aware that the Sentinel acted as the guardian for the tribe. He would watch for approaching enemies, changes in the weather, even the approach of game. I’m telling you, the tribe’s survival depended on him. You have a genetic advantage, an advantage that can be developed beyond normal humans.” Stepping back, I let my eyes rake over his body, oh yeah definitely eye candy. Sue me for not keeping my mind strictly on my work. “We just need to find a guide who can help control and hone your senses.”

“And how do you know about this stuff? I mean, you being a Dick and all.”

Kneading my forehead, I looked towards the room’s door. This gave me the opportunity to turn away from the detective. Damn, when did I lose control of the conversation? I began to play with the folder. “I have a dual Doctorate and I’ve studied Sentinels-”

“I know…Dr.” He emphasized the word "Sandburg… I’ve read all about you too.” His eyes narrowed. “What about you? Why can’t you be my guide?” The voice was heavy with challenge. “Aren’t you supposed to be some sort of Guide extraordinaire?”

Okay, time for a breather. I was supposed to be the consummate professional, but damn if my dick didn’t sit up and pay attention. That voice, the chiseled, masculine look… “Down boy,” I whispered, only to turn scarlet as I turned around and was met by a pair of twinkling blue eyes. Loudly clearing my throat, I informed the smirking man, “If you’ve read about me, then you know that I locate Guides for Sentinels, but I, myself, do not assume that role.”

“Why not?”

“Huh?”

The previously twinkling eyes were now intense. “Why. Not?” He prowled – yes, that was exactly what Jim did- closer. “Scared of being bonded?”

Indeed, why not? Was I afraid of being bonded? On top of that, was I afraid to be bonded to a Sentinel? Let me see if I could answer that… Hell, yeah! I needed a moment to breathe while I thought about the mechanics of bonding.

Imagine having someone in your head, 24 hours and day, 7 days a week. This person could sense what you sensed, feel what you felt, and when the link became deep enough, know what you knew –that’s what being bonded entailed. Or, as my friend S'chn T'gai Spock explained, in one of his less than logical moments, “It can really suck”; although, one must remember that he was bonded to James T. Kirk. Excuse me for a moment while I shudder at the thought. The truth be known, I always thought that Leonard McCoy would have been a better mate for the Vulcan, but there was no accounting for taste.

I did not want him to know my every thought, nor did I want to know his. That would take the mystery out of life. Of course there was a way to shield against that type of intrusion, but who wanted to expend the energy needed to keep one’s mind constantly shielded? It was literally a big headache. Nope, he could keep to his mind and I’d keep to mine, thank you very much. While those and other thoughts were skittering though my mind, Jim used my silence as an opportunity to lean in and run his nose along the side of my neck. The sensation made me weak in the knees.

“If you take me on as your Sentinel, I can make it worth your while.”

Damn, if the man didn’t have a strong argument. Doing a mental walk through of his file, I tried to bring to mind the information about his sexual orientation. This information, which had been a part of a person’s official record since the year 2050, was used as a part of the new Affirmative Action Amendment the same as race and religious preferences. An individual couldn’t be denied gainful employment because of race, religious preferences, or sexual orientation. Most employers used the information to keep the numbers balanced in an effort to stave off discrimination lawsuits--couldn’t say we weren’t a progressive society. I finally pulled my muddled thoughts together and remembered reading that he was listed as bisexual… used to have a wife and everything.

“Jim!” I rested my hand on his broad, muscular chest, and as much as I wanted to pull him to me, pushed him away. “In case you didn’t hear me the first time, I find guides for Sentinels--not act as one.”

Jim’s chuckle was a low throaty sound that rolled over me. Had I been a dog, I would have sat up and begged. “You can’t fool me, Chief. Remember, I’m a Sentinel--a human lie detector. Besides,” he buried his hands in my hair, and pulled me forward into a deep kiss, then raising his lips to my ear, whispered, “the pheromones in this room are so thick, I’ll need a machete to forge my way through them.”

Licking my lips, I broke away and picked up his file. Leafing through it gave me a reason to lower my eyes; thereby preventing him from seeing the naked desire in them. Damn my overactive libido and a dick that didn’t know when to roll over and play dead. Deep breaths… find your center…calm yourself. It took a moment, but my recalcitrant member finally obeyed my mental directives to play nice, and I calmed down. Turning back, I faced my sweet tormentor, he and his blue eyes so close that I could almost see into his soul. “Jim…”

“Yes…”

For a big man, how did he move so silently? “I- I um…”

Jim smirked as he pulled out a business card. Next, he extracted a pen from his inner jacket pocket and wrote on the back of the card.

“Here’s my personal number. If you decide that you want to be a Guide, give me a call.” He put the card in my shirt pocket and as he patted the pocket he grinned. “When I pick up, just whistle.” He winked. “You know how to do that, don’t you?”

I cleared my throat. “I just put my lips together and blow.”

“Blow being the operative word,” he said in his best tempter’s voice as he walked away.

Call me crazy, but at that moment, I could have whistled the Hallelujah Chorus.

At this point, I must say that I was very proud of my self-control; it took me two days instead of two minutes to call him. I found out that James Ellison was a man of his word--his showed me that it would indeed be worth my while to take him on as my Sentinel. In fact, he showed me all that night and the next morning. It wasn’t until we were lying sated in each other’s arms that I remembered I had more information to give to him.

“Jim. We need to talk about the Zone-out factor.” Reaching down, I slapped away the hand that was tickling my balls. “Focus, man, this is important.”

Jim turned onto his back. “Right, Zone-out factor.”

Snuggling closer to the warm body, I explained, “Yes. That happens when you become focused on one of your senses to the exclusion of the others.” Jim rolled onto his side to face me. I gasped as his calloused hands roamed over my body. Touching. Squeezing.

“You mean like now?”

“Now?” Had I just squeaked again?

“Uh huh.” The hands moved down until they surrounded my very interested dick. “What if I just concentrate on touch? Will I zone?”

“Th-there are exer-exercises we can use t-to teach… Oh god… Jim!”

It was much, much later before we got to those exercises.

***

Had it really been five years since I'd become the big lug’s Guide? Wow, but what was he to me? Definitely, he had become my Blessed Protector, but was he the one for whom I would forsake all others?

Anyway, his admonitions drew me back to our current situation.

“…and another thing…”

Hadn't he just said that? Cradling the phone between my ear and the crook of my shoulder, I rose, snatched up the remains of my pie in one hand and my coffee in the other, and made my way to an unoccupied booth at the back of the shop. I set my dish and cup down, placed the phone on the table, and activated the holographic feature. Instantly, a beam of light approximately six inches tall was emitted from the screen, and I could now see a miniature James Ellison suspended in the air. At least I can see the scowl instead of imagining it.

“Jim…” He was still fussing. “Jim.” Did this man ever shut up? “JIM!” Startled--I am not known to raise my voice at him--Jim finally quieted although he did affect the most adorable pout. “Jim, I’m on my way home. I should be there in 15, 20 minutes.”

He looked away and then looked back. “You coming over tonight?”

I sighed. At times, Jim could be a bit smothering-- a tendency that, according to the Guides I had interviewed, was shared by their Sentinels. It must be the “Blessed Protector” syndrome or just a genetic trait a Sentinel feels towards his Guide.

“Don’t know. I’m kinda tired.”

Jim turned away, his jaw working.

“Jim, we are going to the movies tomorrow.”

“I know… I just miss you.”

I ran my hands through my hair and pulled on my lower lip. “I guess I’m not that tired. I could stop over for a minute.”

Jim’s face lit up like a kid at Christmas. “That’s great. I have that new Colombian coffee everyone is talking about. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

He hung up. After his hologram disappeared, I put my phone in my coat pocket.

Serena sashayed over to the table. “Mushball,” she said as she cleared away the dishes.

I folded my arms across my chest and slumped down in my seat.

“That man has you wrapped around his little finger and you can’t deny it, no matter how many paramours you have on the side. All he has to do is poke out his lip in that cute little pout, say ‘jump,’ and you ask ‘how high?’ Go on and marry him, you know you want to.” I opened my mouth to protest, but she continued speaking. “You know, since he’s a shifter, he could be like Rafe. Who knows… maybe the patter of little Sandburg-Ellison feet will be coming in the not too distant future.”

I made the sign to ward off the evil eye towards her. “Get thee behind me, woman!”

Her laughter rang throughout the diner as she walked away.

***

When I left the diner approximately 15 minutes later, I was still relishing the taste of the second piece of pie. As I walked, my thoughts turned to Jim. Some people thought that he was a strange bird, or cat, whatever the case might be. People just couldn’t get it through their skulls that a man as big and as tough as Jim could be a total bottom. I mean he could whip most beings, both preternatural and human that crossed his path, and to be truthful, I sometimes found myself in awe of the fact that he only wanted to bottom, but I wasn’t complaining. Me… I usually topped, but I’d had some great sex when I was on my hands and knees. Take the other night… And oops, here was Jim’s apartment.

I stopped and looked up at the dark building that occupied the space at 852 Prospect. Not an imposing building, as buildings went, but it was sturdily built and it provided a place for my weary man to lay his head. I walked up to the doorman and smiled as he pulled open the door.

“Hello, Ryan. Nice weather we’re having.”

He smiled back. “Indeed we are, Dr. Sandburg, but I’m afraid that it’s a little too damp for my liking.”

I liked Ryan. He was big and sturdy, just like the building. He could have been anywhere between 60 and 600, it was hard to tell by looking at the youthful face, although the grey hair might have been a giveaway. He smiled again, and allowed a hint of fang show. It sent shivers through me and not of the “screaming in terror” kind either. Blame it on the cynic in me, but I had a sneaking suspicion that he did it on purpose.

“I think Mr. Ellison is waiting on you, sir.”

Damned vampire, he sure knew how to be a cock-tease. Resisting the need to adjust my tightening pants, I attempted to casually stroll pass him, and was rewarded with a low chuckle. “Aggravating bloodsucker,” I muttered, and his laughter tickled my ears as I headed for the elevator. I was relieved that the elevator man was taking a break. After the doors closed, I sighed, slumped against the walls, and finally adjusted myself. All I needed was for Jim to smell my arousal… maybe he’d think it was for him… nahh.

Two minutes later, I was standing in front of the door of Jim’s apartment.

Just as I raised my hand to knock, the door was jerked open; I was snatched into the darkened apartment, swept up into a pair of strong arms and being kissed to within an inch of my life. “Albert,” I gasped, as soon as I was released, “you shouldn’t kiss me like that here. What if Jim walked in?”

“Sandburg,” Jim growled then dropped me. I landed gracefully on my feet.

I could almost feel his pout. “Jim, I was just kidding. I knew it was you.”

“You did not.”

“Of course I did. I could tell those lips anywhere.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. Besides… Albert is a much better kisser.” I ducked the swat that I knew was coming. “Jim, I’m teasing you. You kiss just fine.” Through the soft glow that lit the room I saw Jim moving to sit on the couch. The frown he wore did nothing to mar his good looks. I excused myself and went into the kitchen to get us a drink. Albert was already there.

“You really shouldn’t tease him so much.”

Albert, his butler, actually looked like a tiny Albert Einstein. Although he was only 5’4” tall, the 80 year old Albert exuded the air and power of a man twice his size. He was hired as the Ellisons' butler when Jim was eight and his brother Steven was four. Two years later, Jim’s mother had walked out on the family, leaving Albert to assume the role of nanny, friend, confessor, disciplinarian, in short, the parent that Mr. William Ellison, Jim’s real father, failed to be. Both of the younger Ellison men were the better for it.

Albert never failed to be meticulously dressed; tonight was no different. He wore a white shirt,with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Intense brown eyes were focused on the lemon that he was slicing. As I watched, I wondered how he kept his perfect manicure.

“I know. He’s just so…so teaseable.”

With a speed that belied a man of his years, Albert turned and brought the knife to within a centimeter of my nose. At this point, I believed it to be in my best interest to listen to whatever he had to say.

“Just make sure that you don’t tease yourself out of the best thing that has ever happened to the both of you.”

I gulped. “Yes, sir.”

He nodded, laid the knife next to the lemons and opened the refrigerator. Reaching in, he pulled out a beer and a carton of chocolate milk. He uncapped the beer and then poured a tall glass of milk. “Here you are, for Master James, a beer and for you, chocolate milk.”

“How did you-?”

He smiled. “One doesn’t need to be preternatural to be observant. You don’t drink alcohol at this time of night. Your preferred drink of choice is either coffee or chocolate milk.” He turned back to preparing his drink. “Now, go and demonstrate to the young master just how you really feel about him.”

The old romantic. I took the drinks and returned to the living room.

“Jim.” He got up to go fiddle with the air-conditioning unit. I sighed. “Jim.”

He stepped up to me, took the beer from my hand and sauntered over to the magazine rack. I rolled my eyes, took a sip of my milk and settled onto the couch to let him get over his sulk. It took him 20 minutes to “read” his selection, during which time Albert brought him another beer and I had two more glasses of chocolate milk. Finally, without taking his eyes off the magazine, he spoke.

“Do you really want a three-way with Serena?”

“Jim.” I rose and took the magazine from his hand. He sat looking away until I turned, placed a finger under his chin and raised his eyes to mine. “I may have multiple lovers, but I like to have them one at a time.”

“And it’s now my time.”

“Jim, you’ve never been my lover.” I gripped his chin before he could turn away. “You are my love and my heart, much more than a lover to me.” He didn’t look convinced. “I’ve never lied to you. You know that I’m your guide, and my heart lies with you, but-“

“Your body sometimes lies with other people.”

“Truer words have never been spoken, my heart.” I pulled him up and hugged him close. “But I don’t want to talk about the others, I’m here with you and that’s all that matters.”

“You could give it all up, the detective business… all the other … distractions; I could take care of you.”

“What, and spare you the fun of saving my worthless carcass on a weekly basis? Besides… I have enough of my own money if I truly desired to play the idle rich. Nope, I’ll retain my membership in the snoopers’ club.”

Jim sighed as he leaned in for a kiss. “You’re such a dope,” he said.

“Yeah, but I’m your dope.” I pulled him down the rest of the way.

What happened next? I can only say that a gentleman never kisses and tells.

***

The next morning I was two hours late opening my office. I sat at my desk, drinking my morning coffee, talking to Jim, and going over the books. With his usual impeccable timing, he’d rung me just as I walked through the door. He actually had nothing of importance to discuss; he said that he just wanted to hear the sound of my voice. I, on the other hand, knew that he still needed reassuring that he was number one in my life. So I kept one quarter of my attention on his monologue, another quarter mentally reliving the wonders of Jim’s flexibility. The rest of my attention was focused on the books. I frowned at the credit side of the accounting. All I needed was one juicy case to put me back in the black.

“Where’s a genie when you need one?” I groused.

Just as Jim asked, “Why do you need a genie?” the door opened and a man stepped into my office. I noticed that he took in everything as he sauntered up to my desk.

“Are you Blair Sandburg?” Straight to the point, I like that.

“Got it in one. Now… do I get my three wishes?” I could hear Jim’s voice over the speaker phone demanding to know who had just entered my office.

The man looked at me, confused. “What?” He shook his head. “They said you were a wise-ass.”

Again with the “they”. One day I was going to meet this elusive “they”. “I thought I was a dick?”

He blew out his breath, causing his lips to roll like a horse’s. “Look, do you want my case or not.”

I sat back, folded my hands in my lap, and gave him the once over. He was big, over 6’5” and about 300 lbs; I didn’t think that he had an ounce of fat on him. His shoulders looked like he was carrying boulders and his biceps threatened to rip the sleeves of his well-made jacket. He had thick blond hair that was brushed straight back and slicked down. His green eyes seemed to take in everything, including me, and the interest was obvious.

Too bad he had a face that only a mother could love, but then again, all cats are grey in the dark.

“A case? Sandburg?” Jim’s voice brought me back to the business at hand.

“Gotta go, love.” I hung up the phone and then turned my attention back to my visitor. “I don’t even know what the case is.”

“I want you to follow my husband.”

“Okay… and he is?”

“David, David Lash-Sears.”

“And you are?”

“Fred Sears.”

Fred Sears, the millionaire. I’d heard of him--made his money in precious gems. “Alright, Mr. Sears, I’m watching your husband, why?”

“Because I want to prove that the little slut is cheating on me.”

“I see, looking for material to file for divorce.”

He nodded. “According to the prenuptial agreement that we signed, if I can obtain evidence that my loving spouse is a bit too loving to anyone else, he doesn’t get a single credit of my money.”

I leaned back and watched the languid rotations of the blades in the ceiling fan. For some reason, I found myself not liking Sears; I hoped my next statement would put him off. “As a rule, I don’t take these types of cases. Cheating leaves such a bad taste in my mouth.”

Sears grinned while pushing a $200,000 credit towards me. “But one can acquire a taste for almost anything.”

Against my better judgment, I reached for it. He took the opportunity to slide his hand over mine.

“How can I be sure that you have the right-” his eyes raked my body- “equipment to do the job?”

I reminded myself that I needed the money from this case. “Mr. Sears, I’m certain that a man in your position didn’t get to his current station in life without being careful; therefore, I know that you checked out several detective agencies before settling on mine.” I tried to ease my hand from under his; he tightened his grip. “If I didn’t meet your qualifications, I have a feeling that you wouldn’t have come here to engage my services.”

Mr. Sears nodded, released my hand and sat back.

“You are, of course, correct. I had an extensive background done on you, and I’m quite sure that your ‘services’ will be more than adequate.”

After his comments, I wanted to take a bath. Instead, I settled for putting the credit in the pocket of my shirt. “Tell me about your suspicions.”

“Suspicions.” His laugh was brittle. Naturally, there had been rumors but it wasn’t until I was attempting to read my morning paper--I read it every morning at 8:00 sharp, that I came across an interesting item…”

***

“Fred.”

Not now, can’t a man sit in his own breakfast room and have a cup of coffee in peace? I held the paper up higher in front of my face, the intention clear. Anything I’m doing is preferable to talking to you.

“Fred.” I heard the sound of approaching footsteps, and then the paper was violently snatched from my hands and slammed down onto the table. “Fred.” I looked up into the glaring face.

When I answered, I made my tone sickeningly sweet, “Yes, dear?” I looked into the pinched face of my husband. Sometimes, when I squinted, I could see why I fell in love with this harpy. At 5’8”, and 120 lbs, my husband was thin, almost to the point of gauntness. His wispy blond hair was worn shoulder- length and parted on the left side. Blue eyes were set above a slightly too-wide nose and thin lips, which were currently pinched in the most disagreeable facial expression.

“Fred…dear,” he responded, “I need some money, about $75,000.”

“For what? A new pair of swim trunks?” I snorted turning to the financial section. “Besides, aren’t you a little too old to advertise your wares?” Despite the fact that I couldn’t see his face, I snickered as I pictured that his flush of anger. It started in his chest and traveled up his shoulders, his neck and chin. Finally it worked it way up his cheeks, forehead and up into his hairline. He looked as if someone flipped and dipped him in red dye. Add to that, the persimmon sucking pucker he was sure to be wearing, could it be any wonder that I hated him so much?”

“I don’t want a new pair of trunks. I need some new summer clothes.”

I schooled my expression into one of innocence. “Who for? I can’t remember the last time you made the effort to dress up for me.”

“Hey-”

“I see you made Jimmy Cello’s column.” That stopped whatever he was going to say. I picked up the paper and read, “What famous socialite is fighting with his husband, and keeping company with the famous, or rather infamous Lee Brackett?”

The panicked look on his face was almost worth the aggravation that living with him caused me. ‘What binge was I on that made marrying him seem like such a great idea?’

“Is th- is that supposed to be me?”

“No, it’s the other famous socialite who’s fighting with his husband. Of course it’s you, you little tramp!”

“Tramp!” He swung at me. “You bastard.” It was like fending off a child.

I grabbed his wrist and twisted his arm behind his back, relishing his cry of pain.

“Everyone in town knows you’re running around with that playboy.”

“Let me go, we’re just…”He gasped as I tightened my grip. “We’re just friends!”

I could have easily broken his arm, snapped it just like a twig. Instead, I pushed him away from me, and watched him rubbing his arm. “Friends like that are the leading causes of divorce. I’m tired of the looks of sympathy, of conversation stopping when I walk into a room. It’s time that I took care of the situation.”

“Fred, please-”

“I’m going to the office. At least I can get some peace and quiet there.” Snatching my hat off the rack, I pushed past him and stomped out, slamming the door behind me. Outside, I paused, counted, and made it to ten before hearing the muffled curse and the smashing of something within. I moved away. Now, call Brackett and tell him what a big, bad wolf you married.

***

“Lee Brackett and Jimmy Cello.” I blow out a long breath, and reached for my coffee. “This is starting to sound like a family reunion.”

Sears' ears pricked up. “You know them?”

I screwed up my face. “Lee Brackett owns the Monarch.” I paused. “I take it that the two of you aren’t on the best of terms?”

Sears leaned back and cocked his head to the side. “Has anyone ever told you that you have the gift of understatement?”

I shrugged. “Cello, he’s okay. He’s the social columnist for the Cascade General.”

“Gossip monger is more like it,” retorted Sears.

I grinned. “Do you think your husband called Brackett?”

“Does a cat like cream?”

I scratched my head. “I don’t know…does a cat like cream?” Sears gave me a shit-eating grin, stood, came around the desk and stood beside me, his crotch at face level. What the…

“What about you? I heard somewhere that you like cream.”

The situation was becoming so wrong, and I should have felt some guilt that his musky smell made my mouth water; I only knew that I wanted to wrap my lips around—“On The Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe,” intruded on my lust.

Saved by the bell. I snatched up the phone and flipped it open. “Jim-”

“Sandburg…a case…” He paused. “What’s wrong? I can hear your heart beating a mile a minute.”

I swallowed; Sears was still much too close for my raging libido to handle. I scooted the chair back and heard Jim’s inhalation at the high-pitched squeal of the wheels. “Nothing’s wrong, just getting into the particulars of a potential case.” Sears was smug when he walked back around the desk and resumed his seat. I noticed that the way he sprawled put his best assets on display. I made a show of turning my back to him. “Meet me for lunch, I’ll tell you all about it.”

Jim hesitated; I could tell that he was still monitoring my heartbeat. “Okay, you sure you’re all right?”

I caught myself nodding and said, “I’m fine. I’ll see you in about an hour.” I hung up before he could say anything else.

“You sure I can’t interest you in a nibble?” The voice was like cold water on my libido.

“Look.” I turned back to face him. “If I’m going to take your case, there’s one thing we need be clear on.” He raised his eyebrow. “I don’t sleep with my clients--ever.”

“And when the case is completed?”

I sighed. “I charge $50,000 a day plus expenses. If I find what you need within the next two days, I return the unused portion of your retainer. If I need any additional time-”

“And why, my dear Shamus, would you need any additional time?” Sears interrupted.

I could hear the sound of traffic coming through my open window. Bending down, I reached into my desk, pulled out a large book, and opened it to a bookmarked page. “Admissible Evidence, Book 2, section 3 subsection 6 reads, and I quote, ‘Whereas it may be the case that not all suspects in an investigation are preternatural or inclined to use methods that involve other than normal means of perpetrating an offense; whereas it may cause undue financial distress to disprove evidence obtained by methods recognized as ‘supra’ natural; whereas evidence obtained through the aforementioned means can be manipulated to suit the investigation… information gathered in such a way will not be admissible in a court of law.’”

“In a nutshell, most of the legal system is still governed by non-preternaturals, who feel that evidence obtained through other than natural means is too easily tainted. Now, you can go to a detective who has no compunction about using otherworldly means to obtain what you need, I can even provide you with a list. Afterwards, who knows, your lawyer may dazzle the courts with brilliance…” or baffle them with bullshit, was the unspoken implication, “… thus avoiding said evidence from being thrown out.” I replaced the book. “I, on the other hand, use good old-fashioned detective work. That way, the evidence has no taint of the supernatural.”

He grinned. “You’ve convinced me. David and I will be at the Pelican Club tonight at 6:00 pm sharp.”

I checked my watch. “My associate and I will be there with bells on.” He opened his mouth and I had a pretty good idea of what was about to come out, so I added, “I need to verify your chip.” With an amused looked on his face, Sears held out his hand, palm up. I reached into my desk and pulled out my electronic reader. This instrument was no larger than a credit card and it read all the information contained on the subject's identity implant. As I moved the device over his implant, the following scrolled down its face:

Fred Sears,
191 3rd Street Cascade Washington
(206) 555-7843
Occupation: Businessman
Credit Rating: AAA+
Economic Status: 1

I wasn’t surprised at the economic status. Money knew money, and even if I hadn’t placed him when he walked in the door, I knew that he had money… in fact, that he had loads of it. “1” was reserved for the wealthiest of the wealthy. Jim and I were rated level “3”. Yep, the chip was good for $200,000 and then some.

“Thank you, Mr. Sears, I’ll see you tonight.” I put the reader back in my desk and stood, extending my right hand. He grasped it, pulled me forward, buried his face in the junction between my throat and chin, and inhaled deeply. So familiar was the gesture that I vaguely wondered if Fred Sears was a Sentinel. Man, did it seem that the gesture was also familiar to another portion of my body; I was instantly rock hard.

“Until this evening, Detective Sandburg.”

He took another deep breath, muttered something that I missed, released my hand and walked out. He was whistling, “Undercover Lover.”

I might have replied, but I wasn’t sure. I was sure of one thing- I needed Jim and I needed him now.

“Jim.” I let my lust flair through our bond.

“Blair?” His desire sang through me.

I knew he was right around the corner, but walking be damned. I let our shared bond pinpoint his location, and then I whispered, “Summon.”

Jim appeared as if, well… as if by magic.

As he looked at me, his nostrils flared and his pupils dilated. “Sand-” The rest of his statement was smothered by the kiss I gave him. I remembered someone saying, ‘it’s good to be the king’,but at this moment, ‘it was good to be the top.’ When we finally broke apart, I winked at him, grinned, waved my hand in a circular motion, and drew his lips back to mine as the room faded to black….

***

At 5:30 pm on the dot, Jim and I strolled into the Pelican Club. I knew Sears wasn’t scheduled to arrive for another half hour, but I wanted to be in position for his grand entrance with the man who was still his husband, but probably not for much longer. I glanced over at Jim and realized, once again, that others be damned, Serena was right, I was crazy about the guy. He wore navy, my favorite color. His shirt was almost the same blue as his eyes. Yummy. I felt like a beggar in my gray suit.

Laughter and conversation assaulted our ears as we stepped down into the lounge and made our way to the bar.

“Do you think we should get a table?” Jim asked.

I shook my head and perched on a bar stool. Now I had the best view of the door.

“Well, how about a drink?”

“Maybe a club soda. I need for both of us to be clear-headed, just in case things get interesting. Or, I’ve got an idea.” I reached out and pulled him close. “Let’s neck.”

Jim laughed and pushed me away. “Stop it, Chief.”

Just as I made another grab for him, a voice came from behind me.

“Jim Ellison, my word, you look good enough to eat.”

That voice. I turned to stare into the face of Brackett. He wasn’t a big man, about 5’10 and 165 lbs. Sandy brown hair was set on top of what I grudgingly had to admit was a handsome face. I also hated to admit it, but the dark suit he wore was cut to show off his physique. But it was those eyes, those blue eyes that caught my attention. Not for the reason you might think, but because he was looking at Jim…my Jim, like a starving man offered a banquet?

“Jimmy.” Brackett licked his lips. “Why don’t you come around anymore? I could show you my… etchings.”

That line was so old, it was starting to grow mold. I stole a glance at Jim; the smile that bloomed stole my breath away. “He already has a personal Guide, Brackett.”

“Sandburg? I didn’t see you there.”

I wrinkled my nose. “Funny, I could smell your stench a mile away.”

“Oh, do you two know each other?” Jim sounded every bit the innocent, and when I glared at him, he just smiled.

The left eyebrow I raised would have done Spock proud. “I didn’t know that you knew Brackett.”

Again, Brackett licked his lips. I wanted to hand him my lip balm. “Why yes. Jimmy and I go back a long way.”

I didn’t care for the obvious innuendo. Jim blushed. We’d have to talk, and soon.

Before I could deliver a witty retort, Brackett said, “Gotta go, I see some people I know.” He smiled and squeezed Jim’s hand. “Jimmy.” He looked at me with amusement. “Sandburg, it’s always a pleasure.” Then he walked away.

As I watched him saunter across the room, I envisioned a strutting peacock. It took all my self-control not to make that vision a reality. Jim leaned into me, breathing into my ear.

“You know he asked me to marry him.”

I didn’t know. “Oh, really?”

“Yep.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“Oh…a gypsy fortune teller read my palm and she told me-”

“What, what did she tell you?”

“She told me that my true love would be about…5’8”, with lots of curly brown hair, blue eyes and as smart as a whip, and… that he would also be a private detective.” He smiled that smile that made all parts of me sit up and pay attention. I was just about to tell him so, when he cocked his head; I knew that he was listening.

“What is it?”

Jim indicated the direction that Brackett had gone. “I don’t think that one of the occupants of the table Lee is visiting is too happy to see him.”

I turned, just in time to see Fred Sears’ face redden. Tonight he was wearing a double breasted brown striped suit.

“The big man is Sears,” I supplied.

“And the slender blond?” Jim indicated the other seated man.

“He’s the one I’m investigating.”

David Lash-Sears sat with his hands clenched on the table in front of him. His back was ramrod straight and his big blue eyes were currently trained on the table. It was hard to tell his height from his seated position, but I knew from my research that he was 5’10”.

Jim’s face scrunched. “Why is he dressed like a Harlequin?”

I shrugged, but had to admit that Jim was correct. Mr. Lash-Sears’ ensemble consisted of an orange and grey window pane suit coat which was complimented, and I used the term loosely, with a shirt of a darker orange. This was topped off with a grey and white window pane tie. Under the table, I caught a glimpse of a solid orange pant leg. Jim looked down and groaned.

“Honey-colored, wing-tipped gators?” I couldn’t help the laugh that escaped when he mumbled, “How do you get involved in these cases?”

“Just clean living, I guess.”

We continued to watch the interaction at the table.

After a minute, Jim whispered, “I don’t know if I like you watching him; he’s very handsome.” He paused and then added, “In a Bambi-caught-in-the-headlights kind of way.”

I patted his arm. “It’s a good thing that you’re the only animal that I want.”

Jim snorted. “Darn tootin’.”

I watched them a minute longer. "Maybe we should go over there."

Jim shook his head. "No need. So far they're being… civil."

Trusting Jim’s sense of hearing, I relaxed back onto the bar stool. I was reaching in my pocket to retrieve the credit, thinking I might as well buy Jim a small drink, when I spotted another familiar face. I groaned.

Jim was instantly alert. “Sandburg, what is it?”

Taking a deep breath, I inclined my head towards the cloakroom. “See, the guy who just checked his coat?”

“Which one?”

“The short man dressed in the dark suit with the tie that looks as if someone lost their lunch on it.”

“You mean the one who looks like Peter Lorre?”

“Peter Lorre?” I took a good look at the man. I never noticed that he did indeed resemble Peter Lorre, well… just as he started to gain weight. He had the same combed down hair, the big brown bedroom eyes, and the slightly fleshy face with the perpetual look of innocence that allowed its owner to garner many a secret for use in his column. “That’s James Cello.”

“The society writer?” Jim looked interested.

“My… aren’t we polite? Most people call him a gossip monger.” I retorted.

Jim just waved aside my snarkiness.

“Blair Sandburg.” The voice that accosted my ears did not belong to the famous actor.

I gave him a smile. “James Cello.”

“My favorite Shamus Shaman,” Cello boomed.

“Don’t forget mage,” I added.

Jim rolled his eyes. Cello turned and gave him a smile that could light all of Cascade. Jim seemed to have that effect on people.

“Well…well… who do we have here?” Cello was undressing Jim with his eyes.

I stepped in between them; it seemed to be my night for doing that. “James Cello… James Ellison.”

Jim stuck out his hand. “Charmed.”

Cello clasped both of my Jim’s hands in his. “Not as much as I. James and James…could our meeting be kismet?

Where was a barf bag when you needed it? For a moment, I thought that Cello was about to bow and kiss the back of Jim’s hand; I eased it out of Cello’s grasp. “What brings you here?”

The little weasel gave me a knowing smile. “You two an item?”

I shrugged, but looked him in the eye… “Let’s just say I wear his letterman’s jacket.” Jim's laugh was a warm puff of breath in my ear. “So, what brings you here?”

He gave a self-depreciating smile. “You know me… just going to and fro…”

“Isn’t that what Satan said to God?”

His smile just got wider, and he looked around the room. His eyes lit up. “I see some people I know. Sandburg.” He raked his eyes up and down Jim’s body. “Ellison.” Cello turned and walked away.

“Sandburg,” Jim whispered, “he’s heading for Sear’s table.”

Sure enough Cello, and his jaunty manner, was aimed in the direction of Sears’ table. I could see from the expression on Sears’ face that Cello was one of the last persons that he wanted to see--the other already being there.

I took Jim by the elbow. “Let’s go join the party.”

He grinned as we headed for the table; we arrived in time to hear Cello greet Brackett.

“Brackett.”

Brackett sneered. “Cello, what are you doing here?”

Cello cast a meaningful glance at Sears and his husband. “I’ve come to say hello to the happy couple.”

Lash’s blanch caused Brackett to take a step towards Cello. “Well, now you’ve seen them, you just get the hell out of here.”

Sears scowled at both men. “Yeah, go back to whatever rock you hide under, and take Brackett here with you.”

Cello smiled. “Sure, come on, Brackett. I think Mr. Sears has forgotten a few things.”

This was getting interesting. I stepped forward. “What things, Cello?”

Brackett’s glee was written all over his face. “Yeah, Cello, what do you have on old money-bags here?”

Sears’ chair was knocked away as he rose to confront the two men. “Nothing. He’s a filthy, lying gossip monger-”

“Really.” Cello was turning a nice shade of red.

“-and if he prints one thing in that rag of his, I’ll sue him for every penny he’s got. For every penny his publisher has!”

Cello looked into Sears’ eyes, while announcing to the group, “Ask him about North Africa.”

Before even Jim could move, Sears’ fist connected with Cello’s nose. Cello staggered back, whipped out a handkerchief, and held it to his nose.

Sears growled. “Now, go bleed somewhere else.”

Cello dabbed at his nose. “You bet I will. I’ve a column to get out… and you get top billing.”

As Cello stalked off, Sears whirled on Brackett. “You too, take a hike!”

“Fred, please…” David touched his arm, but was pushed away. He winced in pain as his side connected with the table.

“Why you-” Jim didn’t try to stop Brackett as the man landed an uppercut to Sears’ chin. I cheered inwardly before nodding to Jim. He grabbed Brackett, and I reached down to pull Sears to his feet. The big man struggled to get away; I tightened my grip.

“Calm down, Mr. Sears.”

“Don’t you tell me to calm down, Sandburg!”

“I’ll kill you for what you did to David!”

“Shut up, Brackett, before I turn you into the rat that you are!”

David turned big eyes on Brackett. “Lee, don’t… I-I’m alright.”

Just what I needed, Sears jerked in the direction of his spouse; Brackett attempted to lunge at Sears. “Mr. Sears, stop it!”

“I’m fine!” Brackett attempted to pull away, but Jim held onto him for another minute before letting him go. “The clientele in here is getting too low class for my taste.” He cast a sympathetic look at Lash, then left.

When he was gone, I released Sears. The big man whirled on me.

“Sandburg, I don’t appreciate people meddling in my affairs… you’re fired.”

“I’m what?”

“You heard me, you’re fired! I should have known better than to go to the likes of you.”

“The likes of me…” I paused as if in contemplation. “I’m good enough for you to suggest that I blow you, or were you simply interested in my oral abilities?” Jim started to growl; Sears took a stop back. “I was certainly good enough for your $200,000 credit.” With a flick the credit appeared in my hand. “Well, you can have it back… here… eat it.” I shoved the credit into his open mouth. After pushing it back far enough to make sure he swallowed it, I turned away.

I heard him gag and sputter. “You’ll be hearing from my lawyer!”

I didn’t bother to turn. “Why? It’s not every day you get to eat a $200,000 credit.”

Jim and I proceeded to the hat-check girl to collect our coats.

“Sorry about that,” Jim said as we turned in our tickets.

I glance at him. “Why?”

Jim frowned. “Because Sears fired you.”

“Oh, that?” I shrugged into my coat. “Don’t be.” I gestured in Sears’ direction; he was still trying to hack up the credit. “I’ve dealt with people like Fred Sears before. You think he’s a good guy because he has social status and he laughs all the time. It’s only later that you find out he’s calling to the others of his kind, to come feed on your rotting corpse.”

***

Shoulders hunched, I walked beside Jim. It was funny because I should have been relieved to be off the case, but as I walked along I became furious.

“Just who does he think he is?”

Jim glanced at me out the corner of his eye. “Who does who think he is?”

“You know who. Sears.”

Jim sighed. “Let it go, babe-”

“Firing me. I’m the best damned PI-”

“Babe.” Jim rested a hand on my arm. “Wanna go back to my place?”

I shook my head. “I’d rather go to the gym and pound something.”

Silence. I looked up to see Jim wearing a crooked grin.

“How about, you come home and pound me instead.”

I grinned back. “Did I ever tell you that you’re the smartest guy I’ve ever known?”

Jim ran the tip of his tongue over his top lip, and pulled me into the nearest taxi.

***

From somewhere the strains of a 1950s song intruded on my subconscious.

“Jim,” I murmured, waving my hand in the direction of the sound. "Why the hell are The Coasters in your bedroom?”

“It’s your phone,” he groused, burying his head deeper into the pillow.

Moaning, I recognized the song. “Charlie Brown” belonged to Captain Simon Banks of Major Crimes; I groped for the phone. Finding it, I hit the answer key. “Ling’s House of Unbridled Pleasure. Please hold and girl 56 will be right with you.”

“Cut the crap, Sandburg. I had a long night.”

Not as long as mine. “Simon, what do you want?”

“Captain Banks-”

“Alright, Captain Banks. Why are you calling me at this ungodly hour?”

“It’s 9am-”

“As I said, this ungodly hour-”

“Forget that. I’m calling because I think you’ve got a potential client in your office.”

I groaned. “Can’t you just give him a good sales pitch, tell ‘em about my magical solve rate?”

“Hardy har, har.” His reply was rife with sarcasm. “It’s Fred Sears, and I don’t think he’s interested in your solve rate.”

At that point, Jim must have decided that too much of our bed time was being taken up by my phone call; he reached up and tweaked one of my nipples, causing me to moan in appreciation.

“Sandburg,” Simon barked, “whatever you’re doing…put it on hold-”

“Can I have someone else hold it instead?”

“Sandburg.”

I rolled my eyes at the warning in his voice. Couldn't the man buy a sense of humor? “Alright, tell Sears I’ll be there as soon as I can. Be sure to remind him that since he canned me last night, I’m doing him a favor.”

“Sure,” Simon’s reply seemed too self-satisfied, “but I don’t think he’ll listen.”

“So, he’s angry.”

“He has a right to be… he’s dead.”

End of Part 1

Back to Story Index

WARNINGS: This is an AU series that involves the preternatural, m/m slash both explicit and implied, violence, language, racial issues, prejudice, and character death.

Author's Notes: I love Old Time Radio (OTR), in fact, I could listen to it instead of watching television. Naturally, I was listening to different series on the internet when I was introduced to Richard Diamond, Detective.

Richard Diamond is the typical 1940’s gumshoe. He’s smart, wisecracking, tough and downright sexy, and isn’t that the most important aspect of a character? I’ve wanted to do a Jim/Blair AU for a while with Blair as some sort of detective and listening to this has given me the idea of an idle rich man who, for want of anything better to do, decided to become a detective. My Cascade is set in a futuristic society that has adopted many of the elements of the 1940s.

The Diamond Detective series had four reoccurring characters: Lt. Walt Levison, Sgt. Otis Ludlum, Helen Asher, and Francis, Helen’s butler. Lt. Levison is Diamond’s former boss and best friend from his days at the police department. Although his character is treated with respect, he serves as a type of comedic foil for Diamond’s character. Next is Sgt. Ludlum, whom Diamond also lists among his friends, even though it is hard to get that impression from the way Diamond treats the character. Otis usually takes the brunt of Diamond’s insults and their relationship is a love/hate one. Diamond loves to stir up Otis and Otis hates to see Diamond stick his nose in on the cases. The only female in the mix is Helen Asher.

Helen is the love of Diamond’s life, despite whose pleas, he will not marry. She is rich, level-headed, loyal and much more forgiving than Rick deserves, but she loves him with all her heart, and he can do no wrong. Finally, there is Francis, Helen’s butler who always manages to catch Rick and Helen in compromising positions. My series will feature Captain Simon Banks, Detective Brian Rafe, Jim Ellison and an original character named Albert who takes on the Francis role from the Diamond series; although, Simon and Brian will be treated with more respect than their counterparts.

Mr. Spock's name is S'chn T'gai Spock which appears in one of the novels. During the show and movies, they avoid his name because it's too hard to pronounce for humans. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_was_Mr_Spock's_first_name_on_the_show_startreck

Thanks to my Tinnean, Lyn, Kelly (new new wonderful beta) and Trickiegyrl who always make my writing so much more interesting.