What if a self-loathing private eye were in love with a murder suspect and had to overcome his lack of self-worth to catch the real killer?
Bobby Caldwell is a thirty-five-year-old alcoholic who is in and out of recovery. He is incredibly intelligent and logical—although, when his emotions are involved, logic never prevails. As a private eye, Bobby uncovers the truth for a living. But, the realities of his own life are a lot harder for him to see.
I hated her for cheating on me. Not that I was much of a prize. I had, after all, fallen off the wagon—again—and I did miss her brother’s wedding during my latest bender. Still, after three years together, I couldn’t believe that Sarah had slept with someone else.
Okay, so I was never the best-looking guy around, but, at six-foot-two, one hundred ninety-five pounds, I could’ve been described as ruggedly handsome. True, I always seemed to be overdue for a haircut, my clothes were always the slightest bit wrinkled, even if I ironed them, and I wasn’t exactly rich, but I paid my bills on time—except when I forgot about them.
Until recently, I had been going to work every day. Well, that was, until I started drinking and Sarah had sex with that guy—the one with the blond hair and the Porsche. If I drove a Porsche, would she have stayed with me? If I stopped drinking, would she come back?
I got up and put on a pot of coffee. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of the photograph of Sarah on horseback. The one I took of her that time while we were vacationing on Cape Cod. Her hair was windblown, her unruly chestnut curls cascading down her shoulders. She had been laughing the loud, confident laugh that she reserved for me and me alone. The laugh that said, I love you, Bobby, even if no one else does.
I didn’t hate her—couldn’t hate her. I hated myself for losing her.
Forgetting about the coffee, I crawled back underneath the covers and started to cry in the heaving, convulsive way that I had as a young boy after my brother, Tony Junior, would beat me up.
For the third time that week, I didn’t show up for work.
The next morning, I was still lying in bed only half awake when I heard my front door open. It had to be my twin sister, Lydia—the only responsible one out of the three of us Caldwell children. I’d given Lydia a spare key just after moving into the house.
Sure enough, when I cracked open one eye, there my twin was, hovering over me and brandishing a vacuum.
“You can’t keep this up, Bobby,” she reprimanded.
“What is this, an intervention?” I groaned. My head hurt, and I was not in the mood to listen to a lecture.
“Markus has the kids and I’m cleaning this place up, and you are getting your sorry ass out of bed.”
“I’m tired,” I whined. It didn’t help.
“I don’t care. I’m sending you out of this house with James. You need some fresh air…or something.”
Opening my eyes, I saw a tall, male figure leaning against my bedroom doorframe. James Harrison. My best friend. We’ve known each other since we were kids.
Unlike me, James still worked on the police force.
Had he called Lydia or had she called him? Either way, it was two against one and there was no point in arguing.
“Okay, okay. I’m up,” I grumbled as I slid my legs over the side of the bed and slowly sat up.
“You need a shower.”
“Fine, I’ll take a shower.”
“And a shave.”
I held out my hands. Lydia deposited an unused bar of soap and a razor into them. Then, I trudged off to the bathroom to scrub away several days of accumulated filth.
A few minutes later, I turned off the water and stood naked in the bathroom.
“I don’t understand why he’s so broken up over her,” my sister’s voice drifted in from just outside the slightly-cracked bathroom door.
I pressed my ear against the wood and listened.
“She’s beautiful, she’s fun, and she makes him happy. Well, when she’s not making him miserable. I get it, but Bobby doesn’t see Sarah like we do. He’s got love goggles on. As much as I try to tell him that he needs to pick up the pieces and move on, he’s fixated on her.”
“Well, I hate her.”
“You just hate that she hurt your brother.”
I pictured Lydia shaking her head as she spoke. “No. I never liked Sarah. There’s something about her. She uses people.”
“She’s not that bad.”
“She cheated on him.”