Footprints in the Snow
When caffeine-addicted reporter Garth Ross is assigned to co-author a biography of a big Hollywood movie producer, Mylo Jensen, he jumps at the chance. Thriving on his work, getting a charge out of interviewing people, Garth sniffs out the story; one which is supposed to be a ‘rags-to-riches’ tale of a movie mogul. Until, his reporter’s sixth sense kicks in.
During an interview with a family friend, Garth uncovers another angle for this book, and it isn’t about the producer’s success.
Jayce Lennox had thought his past was long behind him, until a nosy reporter gets into his business.
As Garth uncovers the truth behind the lies, he discovers an old secret that should have lain dormant.
But, what Garth suspects is the polar opposite from the facts he learns. And his wrong assumptions nearly destroy the man he was asked to promote.
Footprints in the snow…sometimes the trail leads to something totally unexpected.
Included in this novel is a debut short story; Seduction of a Straight Man, by up and coming new author, Keith Ory.
“Are you Garth?”
At the deep masculine voice, Garth glanced up from the coffee cups. “Yes.” He held out his hand. “Thanks for coming.”
“What do I owe you for the coffee?” Jayce Lennox unbuttoned his suit jacket and straightened his necktie.
Garth waved him off and took a seat.
Jayce joined him and they took a moment to assess each other.
Leaving Jayce alone for a moment so he didn’t hit him with questions the second he showed up, Garth opened the lid on his mocha and blew on the hot coffee.
Jayce scooted the chair closer to the table and had a look around their immediate area. Their table was off to the side, and the noise level wasn’t quite as miserable. Since he had no idea what this conversation was going to be about, Jayce didn’t invite this investigator into his home.
The contact came out of the blue. Yes, Mylo had been in the news recently, but Jayce didn’t think it had anything to do with him. He thought it was bizarre he was asked for an interview.
He tugged at the cuffs of his cotton-long-sleeve dress shirt and took the lid off his latte. As the two of them settled down, Jayce inspected Garth’s appearance. He estimated Garth to be in his mid-thirties. The man was trim, about average in height, and pleasantly handsome with blue eyes and thick brown hair.
Jayce noticed Garth wore a wristwatch, but no other jewelry.
Once he had sipped the coffee, Jayce relaxed on the metal chair, staring at Garth.
Garth rubbed his fingers together as if either his hands were cold or he was eager to begin. The handsome man smiled. “Can I record you?”
“In here?” Jayce was referring to the ambient noise level.
He shrugged, holding his cup in his hand on the table.
Garth produced a small tape-recorder with a mic, which he pointed directly at Jayce. For some reason, it made Jayce chuckle from nerves.
Garth smiled when he heard a laugh from the man. The sight of a microphone intimidated people. He knew that. He scooted closer on the chair, pointed the mic at Jayce, and then stared at him for a moment.
As Garth relaxed in his seat, he was able to inspect Jayce more closely. He knew the guy was forty-five since he had graduated high-school and college the same years as Mylo’s son, Tay, had. Which was one of the reasons for the interview, the other was, that by all accounts, Jayce knew Mylo personally for decades. He wasn’t Mylo’s contemporary or colleague, which is why Garth thought Jayce may be more insightful.
“Well?” Jayce kept laughing, opening his fingers palms-up to enhance the gesture.
“Yes.” Garth sat up higher in the chair. “When did you first meet Mylo?”
“I was fourteen. His son Tay and I were best friends in high-school.” Jayce sipped the latte and then held it on the table. “Is this about Mylo’s film career?”
“So, you’re writing a bio about him?”
“Yes.” Garth had outlined his intent but that didn’t mean people were comfortable with it.
“Why?” Garth inspected the coarse beard growth on Jayce’s jaw, which had been shaven. Jayce had full salmon pink lips.
“Yes. Why? Why now? He’s been working in film for decades.”
Garth tried to stop staring at Jayce’s features since it was distracting him. The man was nicely built and tall. “Well, he’s been in the news recently. We follow the headlines. Right now, Mylo Jensen’s the hot topic. He’s been approached to create a documentary about his rise to fame.”
Just for a second, Garth noticed something dark pass over Jayce’s expression. But, it vanished quickly.
“Okay.” Jayce shrugged. “I’m not sure what I can tell you, but, what do you want to know?”
Hoping for Jayce to feel comfortable with him, Garth tried to ease him into it. “Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?” He drank from his cup. “What is it you do?”
“I’m a real estate developer.”
Garth nodded, trying to get Jayce to open up, but it wasn’t easy. Jayce didn’t follow through and stopped talking.
“Um…married? Kids?” Garth asked.
“Divorced, one daughter.”
“So, uh, you grew up in Los Angeles?”
“I did. I traveled abroad pretty extensively on my college breaks.”
“And you were with Mylo’s son on those breaks, correct?” Garth slowly drew a pad and pen from his pocket, setting the small notepad on the table.
“Yes. Tay and I were close all through high-school and college.”
Jayce raised an eyebrow at the line of questioning. When he was told this was going to be about Mylo Jensen, he wasn’t sure he was comfortable with discussing him, nor why he was even asked about him.
But, against his better judgment he agreed. He’d looked up Garth Ross’ work on the computer and when he read the famous people he had collaborated with on books, he knew Garth was legit.
That didn’t mean Jayce was ready to spill his guts out to a reporter.
“We were best friends.” Jayce glanced into the noisy room. Caffeine addicts waited for coffee, the line stretching nearly to the door, and every table was occupied with someone either on their phone texting or typing on a laptop computer.
“Okay.” Garth tapped a pen on a small notepad as if he were nervous. “So, did you spend time with them? With Mylo? Go on family vacations?”
“Yes. Tay’s family had a pool, so we hung out at it together. He also had friends over frequently.” He noticed Garth scribble notes but couldn’t even imagine reading his handwriting upside down.
“Yes. A pool.” Jayce laughed again but was trying not to be annoyed. What his friendship with Tay had to do with Mylo was beyond him.
Garth had interviewed enough people to sense a barrier. Why one had gone up so quickly was curious. He tried to keep on track with his line of questions. “When was the last time you saw either Mylo or Tay?”
“Wow.” Jayce rubbed his forehead. “Not for a while. After Tay moved to Seattle in the nineties we kept in touch for about a year. I had no contact with Mylo at all, not after Tay left LA.”
“What’s your overall impression of Mylo?” Garth asked, trying not to let the level of noise distract him. The café was packed with people and so loud, he was trying not to scream over the small table.
Jayce shrugged, as if either indifferent or unwilling to answer. He tipped up the coffee cup and finished the contents.
“Do you think his life is remarkable?” Garth leaned closer to be heard.
“I guess. Yes. I know he was the son of poor immigrants. His father worked in retail shops, his mother was a seamstress.”
Garth nodded, since he had already read some history of the man.
“They encouraged Mylo to get into film, since it was his passion.” Jayce moved the empty paper cup aside, stuffing the plastic lid into it.
“Did his son, Tay, have any interest in his father’s career?”
“No. Ironically, Tay didn’t want to be in film. He and I studied engineering and architecture in college.”
Garth jotted it down, but thought he knew that from his notes. “So, you and Tay never hung out on the set of any of his productions?”
“I didn’t say that.”
Garth looked up, staring into Jayce’s green eyes. He kept quiet, hoping Jayce would elaborate.