Captain Jim Grant of the Colby Police Department suffers lifechanging injuries while attempting to apprehend a suspect. On his flight back from recuperative leave, Jim sits next to the handsome Jake Handley, who he learns is a history professor at Colby State University.
Due to his injuries, Jim is no longer able to work the streets so he accepts a promotion. However, the new job is desk bound, and the lack of action isn’t easy for the action man to adapt to. There is one compensation, he’s given a cute male assistant, who he learns is also gay. Alas, his boss is one of the biggest homophobes on the force, so Jim is beyond careful where and how often he and Jake are seen out in public together.
Jake is out at work. While he realizes a university faculty is a whole lot different to a police department, he nevertheless begins to rail at the restrictions Jim places on their relationship. However, Jim is the first person Jake calls when a student threatens to make up a story about how Jake had agreed to raise the student’s grade if the student agreed to perform sexual favors on Jake.
Getting involved in an active investigation would be likely to cause questions to be asked within the police department. Will Jim risk his career and reputation for his lover, or will he cop out?
He settled himself into his seat and put on his earphones, just as if he were a teen. But the music he listened to on his iPod wasn't typical teen fare.
He was only a few bars into the music when someone put a jacket and a laptop in the overhead rack and sat beside him. Grant nodded and smiled at the man, who smiled back. One of the tricks of his trade was to make a quick mental inventory of people without appearing to study them. The man sitting next to him was a fifty-something, an inch or two shorter than Grant's 6'2". His curly blond hair was showing a fair amount of gray on the sides, but he had a youthful look. Grant had missed the eye color. But he hadn't missed the small gold stud in the guy's right earlobe. It matched the gold of his glasses frames. Mr. X was wearing a blue oxford shirt, faded jeans, and the ubiquitous sneakers.
Grant lost himself in the familiar music. After they were airborne and were allowed to unfasten their seatbelts, Mr. X looked over at him and said, "I love the Franck Symphony."
What are the chances? Grant asked himself. He turned off the iPod and took off his headphones.
"I'm sorry. I must have had the volume up pretty loud."
The eyes were blue, amazingly blue, as Mr. X smiled at him.
"Not at all. I doubt that anyone else on the plane can hear it. I just caught a bit of that unforgettable first movement theme. I have the Monteux recording. Thank goodness CD's don't wear out!" Doing something that was rarely done on airplanes these days, he held out his hand. "I'm Jake Handley."
Turning so he could shake the proffered hand, Grant said, "I'm Jim Grant. Since this is a non-stop flight, I assume you're going to Detroit, too."
Handley chuckled. "Yeah. Love your deductive abilities!"
That made Grant smile. "A no-brainer, as the kids say, right?"
"No problem. And yes, I'm going to Detroit Metro. After that I'll hop in my car and drive home."
Unable to break a long-standing habit, Grant asked, "And where's home?"
"Colby, Ohio. It's --"
Grant interrupted him, smiling. "I know where Colby is. I live there, too."
Normally he would have cut the conversation short and gone back to listening to his music. But Jake Handley was more appealing than Franck at the moment. He set about getting to know his seatmate.
During the course of the conversation he learned that Jake was a history professor at Colby State University, that he'd been attending a conference on 20th Century British History at the University of South Florida and that he'd presented a paper there. Then, he admitted, he'd played hooky from his teaching duties at CSU and spent a night visiting friends in Lake Polk. Oh, and he was wearing a subtle fragrance, something familiar. What was it? There'd been a sample in his last Macy's bill. Acqua di Gio! Pleased with himself for remembering, he sat there chatting with the professor, finding him disturbingly attractive.
About an hour into the flight, Grant cursed himself for drinking that extra mug of Janet's coffee. He excused himself to go to the restroom. It was good to be up and moving. His leg had stiffened as he sat.
When Grant was back in his seat, Handley said, "You know, Mr. Grant, I feel as if I've been doing a monologue. You know a lot about me, and you've told me nothing about yourself."
Grant grinned. "First of all, please call me Jim. And I apologize if you feel I've been interrogating you. It's an occupational trait, I'm afraid."
Handley raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"Yeah. I'm a cop."