Keach McKennie has been estranged from his dad ever since his 21st birthday. His dad promised him a hefty check but gave him a strange novel instead. Now, seven years later, Keach is dealing with a breakup and is cleaning out his home. He finds the book and soon learns there’s an unopened birthday card in it.
Inside the card is a check for three hundred thousand dollars.
It should be the answer to all his worries, but he’s too late to cash it. Foolishly, he tries anyway and finds the account his dad once owned has been flagged. LA’s fraud squad claims Keach’s dad was a bank robber.
When Lucas Warner, a sexy, but cynical cop launches an investigation, he is convinced Keach is involved in stolen bank funds...things take a disastrous turn.
Can Keach prove his innocence to the man he finds so attractive? Or should he get used to the idea of a future wearing stripes?
“Does it spark joy?” the shiny, delightful, elfin Marie Kondo asked the bemused-looking hulk of a man perched on the edge of his bed.
Keach watched, fascinated. He’d never seen a functional hoarder before. Or such disgusting surroundings from a man who loved stuff so much he had eight rooms full of multiple household objects, and seven closets bulging with clothes.
The man pawed through a huge pile of clothes he hadn’t worn—by his own admission—for seventeen years. He scratched his head. “I dunno. Clothes are clothes.”
And yet, the man hadn’t thrown a single thing on the pile to be discarded or donated. Each item seemed to have such painful attachments, Keach would have burned them eons ago.
Marie Kondo clapped her hands and jumped up and down with glee. Her bouncy hair followed her movements. Evidently, she got a kick out of tough customers.
Keach McKennie had watched all eight episodes of her Netflix series Tidying Up, and so far, his efforts to thin out his possessions hadn’t sparked much joy. In fact, he’d already developed rampant anxiety over things he regretted tossing out over the last few days. The end of his ten-year relationship wasn’t just the end of an era. Keach was officially in a mental canoe on rocky seas, paddling to a destination unknown.
He glanced at the underpants drawer he’d dragged to the living room and peered at the contents. He’d Kondo-ed the heck out of his closet, but damned if he could muster a glint of anything joyful about underpants.
The man on the TV started crying. Marie perched like a pixie in front of him, her beautiful face creased with concern. Keach almost turned off the show. Tempted to re-watch the entire second season of Killing Eve, he manfully focused on the job at hand. Even though underpants were underpants. His sparked neither happy thoughts nor such utter anguish they reduced him to rubble. He plucked out a pair of boxers with the slogan It Ain’t Going to Suck Itself emblazoned across them. Holy heck! What are they still doing in here? He tossed them to the floor.
Oh, there’s a spark. Fury. I can’t believe Joe left those here. He took my prized comic book collection—seventeen years of Dragon Ball Z!—but left me his garbage.
On TV, the weeping man was now rolling his underpants into colorful tubes he lined up in boxes, sliding them into his bedroom drawer. His smile was so wide Keach wondered if wacky tobacky or psychotropic meds might be involved.
Huh. Keach was bored now. He decided to toss the drawer’s contents. Now he had no cookware, underpants, socks, or dress shirts. No dress pants. No suits. And he was down to two T-shirts, three pairs of jeans, two pairs of sneakers, and two pairs of flip flops.
What did I do? What the hell am I thinking? He gazed out of the window. Santa Monica was still there. The scent of the ocean soothed him, and from his vantage point, he could see the big Ferris wheel moving steadily around on Santa Monica pier.
He scrabbled over to the window and studied the hordes of people walking the foggy lengths sampling free eats all in the name of gay pride. Yup. It was Gay Pride Weekend, and Joe had left him for somebody he said needed moral support in coming out.
“He needs me,” Joe had said when he bolted two days before.
Much of what he’d taken—including Keach’s personal pride—seemed to fit into a compact U-Haul. It was only after Joe had left that Keach realized a lot of his own possessions had vanished with his lover. It seemed fitting to finish the job himself.
As Keach turned back to his near-empty living room, he realized he’d soon fill the spaces again. Only this time, he could do as he pleased. He could put anything he wanted in the apartment. No Joe to bitch and moan about feng shui and bad angles and unlucky designs.
We had the luckiest configurations according to him. And look where it got us.
He gazed at the two boxes of books he’d packed to donate to the library and sighed. He’d been meaning to take them there for days. They had a weekend sale, and he was sure they could use them.
Keach suddenly felt the need to get rid of them. And his underpants. He bagged up the latter and picked up one box, carting it to the garage. He’d come back for the second one. Ignoring the homeless man pawing through the recycle bin, Keach popped open the truck to his Prius, the only possession he was determined to keep. He stuffed the box on top of his multitude of recyclable shopping tote bags.
“Hey, Keach,” the homeless man said.
Keach glanced at the man.
“Why did you start shredding paper?” the guy scowled. “Don’t you know paper’s not a valuable resource once it’s shredded?”
Keach cocked his head, curious. “Paper’s valuable to you? Why?”
“I’m a poet.” The homeless man, whose name was Winter, pushed back the battered straw hat he always wore away from his sunburned forehead.
“A poet.” That explains a lot. No wonder he’s homeless. Keach sighed, chastising himself for his mean thoughts.
Until a few months ago, Winter had lived across the road on Nielsen Way, a piece of prized real estate in Santa Monica. Over the years, Winter had become a well-known eccentric to his neighbors, who either loved or hated him.