The last thing Dorran expected when he moved out of his old apartment was to find a dead body in the new one. John Mitchell was a despicable man, from what Dorran learns, but no one deserves to have their head bashed in. Dorran supposed he should be grateful for what happened, if anything because one of the detectives on the case is his ex-boyfriend—the one he dumped ten years ago because he didn’t want to come out of the closet.
Things are never easy for Dorran, though, and he has to deal with nosy neighbors, his angry ex, and…a ghost? He really didn’t mean to stick his nose in the investigation, but it’s not his fault everyone seems to prefer talking to him instead of the cops, even when he really would rather not listen. And it’s also not his fault that the dead guy seems to have killed his uncle—and that the uncle still haunts the apartment. If only his ex could understand that. Dorran wants a second chance with Eli, but Eli seems to think Dorran is sticking his nose into things on purpose.
Will Dorran manage to convince Eli he didn’t mean to get involved? Will he find out who killed John Mitchell before that person decides to take out someone else? He knows he should, because with his luck, that next person is going to be him.
Dorran pushed a curl behind his ear, but it fell back in front of his eye. He blew on it, already knowing it wouldn’t make a difference.
“You should cut it,” Charlie pointed out.
“But? You need to find the time to go to the barber?”
Dorran rolled his eyes. “You know, I do work, even though I do it from home.” It seemed he repeated that at least once a week. At least Charlie was just teasing him. It was when Dorran’s mother brought it up that things went sour.
Dorran stopped in front of the door to his new apartment building. He looked down at the box he was holding, then at the door again.
“You’re gonna have to put that down,” Charlie said.
“Why did I ask you to give me a hand moving? Oh, right. Because you’re so helpful, especially with your comments.”
“Are you going to open it, or are we staying out here the rest of the day?”
Dorran kind of wished he didn’t have to move all his stuff, but Charlie was getting married, and he needed the apartment they’d shared for himself and his fiancée. Dorran didn’t mind. At twenty-nine, it was probably time for him to get his own apartment. He hated having to move, though, because he had hundreds of books, and he needed all of them for his job as a translator.
The key was in his jeans’ pocket, where it had been since the real estate agent had handed it to him. They’d had an appointment to check the apartment with her again, but she’d canceled it, so Dorran had decided just to start moving his stuff in. The apartment was his. He’d signed all the documents. There was nothing the agent could add, and if there was a problem, Dorran would contact her.
He opened the door and used a piece of folded paper to block it. Charlie passed by him on his way to the elevator, and Dorran grabbed his box again and followed.
“Three?” Charlie asked when they walked in.
Charlie nodded and pressed the button. “It’s gonna be weird,” he said after a moment.
Dorran smiled. “You’re the one who kicked me out.”
Charlie kicked in Dorran’s direction, but the box he was holding meant he couldn’t see, and he missed Dorran’s shin. “I didn’t kick you out. I’d keep you if Theresa didn’t mind.”
“You’re getting married, man. I understand why she doesn’t want me around, and honestly, I’m glad I won’t stumble on you two going at it in the kitchen ever again.”
Dorran grimaced at the memory. Charlie was his best friend. He was closer to him than he was to his sister. He wasn’t as close to Theresa, but she and Charlie had been together enough years that Dorran considered her a friend rather than his best friend’s girlfriend. Seeing them naked in the kitchen had been awkward—to say the least.
Charlie knocked their shoulders together. “Admit it. You liked seeing my ass.”
Dorran snorted. “Because I haven’t seen it enough times over the years?”
“You’re gonna miss it,” Charlie teased.
Dorran was going to miss Charlie, although his ass was not his favorite part of his best friend. “I don’t know. I mean, I won’t have to share a bathroom with you anymore or find out you put the milk back in the fridge with only an inch of it in the bottle. What am I going to do?”
The elevator pinged and the doors slid open. Dorran stepped out, still smiling at Charlie, and almost hit a man standing in front of the elevator. The man’s hands shot forward just in time for him to keep the heavy box Dorran was holding from hitting his stomach.
“Shit! I’m sorry,” Dorran said.
The man smiled down at him. “No harm done. You’re moving in?”
“I’m Emanuel. I'm in three-D.” He had a slight accent.
Dorran wanted to ask him if he was French. His name sounded French, although it could be Canadian, but the accent sounded French. “Dorran, three-F.”
Emanuel held his hand out. Dorran looked down at his box, then back at him, and Emanuel chuckled. “Right, sorry. I’ll see you around, then.”
Dorran smiled back. “I guess you will.”
Dorran stepped to the side to let him pass. Charlie sidled close to him, and they watched the elevator’s doors close again. Charlie made a retching sound. “I guess you will? Really? Is that how you guys pick up people? I see you’re not going to miss me too much, huh?”
“What? I can admit when a guy is hot.” Charlie paused. “He was hot, right?”
Dorran laughed. “I thought you could admit it when you found a guy hot?”
“Yeah, but we don’t like the same things. Obviously. Maybe he was hot for me and not for you?”
“He’s hot,” Dorran confirmed. Emanuel had long brown hair and dark eyes, was taller than Dorran, and looked well-built under the loose linen shirt he was wearing. He was definitely well-built under the jeans that had looked painted on, although Dorran hadn’t allowed himself to stare. The last thing he needed was to anger his neighbors before he even moved in.
“This thing weighs a ton,” Charlie whined.
Dorran was still holding his keys, and he managed to stick the correct one into the lock without having to put his box down after only two tries. He walked in, ready to dump the box, because it felt like his arms were about to fall off, but he froze as soon as he got his first look at the apartment.
“What the fuck?”
“What?” Charlie asked behind Dorran.
Dorran walked in and put the box on the floor by the door. “Wasn’t the place supposed to be empty?” Charlie asked from behind Dorran.