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It Takes an Artist...

Quint and Clay Art Crimes #2

Fireborn Publishing, LLC.

Heat Rating: SENSUAL
Word Count: 47,880
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What do you do when someone attempts to frame you for the murder of your roommate? That's the problem facing kinetic artist Trev Eldridge. Although Detective Quint Hawk determines Trev is innocent, it does nothing to assuage Trev's fears.

While Quint sets out to discover who's responsible for the murder, Trev is befriended by Dr Zack Kendall. As Zack helps Trev deal with what happened, the two men begin to bond. At the same time, artist Clay Richardson takes Trev under his wing, after learning Trev is a talented artist.

Evidence leads Quint to a theory about the murder and who is involved. With the help of Trev, Zack, Clay, and Officer Lou Hernandez, they come up with a plan to catch the villains.

With all that is happening, can the growing attraction between Trev and Zack survive before the criminals take them out of the picture...permanently?

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Excerpt

Quint walked quietly into the bedroom, undressed, then went into the bathroom, closing the door so as not to wake Clay. He took a fast shower, brushed his teeth then turned out the light before returning to very carefully slide into bed next to Clay. He knew his lover had been up late, attending the opening of his latest show at the gallery. Quint would have been there with him if he hadn't been called in on a new case.

He'd barely closed his eyes when Quint felt Clay turn over and brush a kiss to his temple.

"How bad?" Clay asked.

"Bad." Quint rolled onto his side, resting his hand on Clay's chest. "Sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."

"What time is it?"

"After three. How was the opening?"

"Same as always. A lot of people telling me how great I am and how much they love my work," Clay grumbled in reply.

"Hopefully you didn't bite anyone's head off."

Clay chuckled. "I was tempted, but I'm getting better about that. Several people were interested in my Element painting of you. Of course, I told them it wasn't for sale. As a matter of fact, I brought it back home with me."

"Clay. Damn. It's just a painting. You have the real thing. If someone wants to buy it, let them."

"I suppose," Clay replied, sounding hurt.

"You do realize..." Quint yawned. "Since you're not selling it, we'll have to hang it in the living room, and I'm not sure I can stand looking at myself day after day."

"Or in here," Clay said, amusement tingeing his words now. "It will fuel my fantasies when you have to work late."

"Now that could make our sex life very interesting, if you act on them later."

Clay huffed. "It's already--"

"Very interesting. I agree." Quint unsuccessfully tried to stifle another yawn. "If I wasn't so tired..."

"I know." Clay stroked Quint's beard then tugged it, kissing the detective when he moved within reach. "Go to sleep. What time do you want me to get you up?"

"Depends how you mean that," Quint replied, returning the kiss.

"When do you need to be at work?"

Quint sighed. "Too soon." Pulling Clay into a tight embrace against his chest, Quint muttered, "Way too soon."

*****

Trev Eldridge opened his eyes then looked around, trying to figure out where he was. Not at the apartment. Not at my folks'. Not... In the dim light he could make out a window along one pale beige wall and a closed door a few feet from the end of the bed. Whose bed? And why am I in it?

He got an answer seconds later when the door opened and a woman in a nurse's uniform came into the room.

"You're awake. How are we feeling this morning, Mr Eldridge?"

"Confused," Trev replied groggily. "Where am I? Okay, I guess since you're a nurse, this must be a hospital. Why am I here? What's wrong with me?"

Before the woman could reply, a man entered the room. He was tall, with dark hair, a trim beard, and a mustache. Coming over to the bed, he studied Trev while asking, obviously having overheard Trev's question, "You don't remember being brought here?"

Trev frowned. "No. The last thing I remember is..." His eyes widened. "There were two men. They...they broke through the door. They had guns and--" Trev tried to touch his shoulder. Something tugged and stung when he moved his hand. The nurse gripped his wrist, telling him he'd pull out the IVs. Focusing his attention on the man, Trev said, "They shot me?"

"Yes. You sustained a shoulder wound."

"Are you a doctor?"

"No. I'm Detective Quinton Hawk." He touched the badge pinned to his jacket pocket. "If you don't mind, I have to ask you some questions."

Trev attempted to shrug then realized that his shoulder was heavily bandaged. "I guess it's okay." Then it hit him. "John. Is he...?"

"I'm sorry. He's dead." Detective Hawk pulled up a chair and sat, looking hard at Trev. "The gun that killed him was on the floor between the two of you."

Trev tried to process what the detective had said, as a wave of sadness washed over him. "He's... They killed him? God damn it. Why?" He gulped, trying to will back tears, because he had to know. "Why would they leave the gun?"

"That's what I'd like to know, Mr Eldridge, especially since the only prints on it belonged to you and John Pierce."

"That's impossible! I don't own a gun and neither did John. He hated them."

The door to the room opened again before Quint could respond, and a man in a white jacket came over to the bed. "I doubt that you remember me," the man said. "I'm Doctor Kendall."

As the doctor stopped beside the bed, Detective Hawk asked Trev, "What was your relationship with Mr Pierce, Mr Eldridge?"

"We were roommates."

"That's it?"

"Yes, that's it. What else would it have been?" Then Trev understood the implication behind the question. "Damn. John was totally straight, if that's what you're trying to find out. Why the hell do people presume because two guys are rooming together that they automatically have to be gay?"

After a pause, during which the detective studied Trev, he said, "But you are."

"Yeah. So? John knew, and it didn't bother him. We've been friends since we were kids. When I moved out here, he offered to let me share the apartment until I found one of my own."

"That was how long ago?"

"Maybe three months."

"What do you do for a living, Mr Eldridge?

"At the moment, I'm a waiter, if you can call that a living."

"Detective Hawk," the doctor broke in. "I'm going to have to ask you to wait outside while I examine Mr Eldridge."

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