Which eccentric cowboy in Stockton County branded Evan Sting on Shotner Hill, murdering the young man? This is what private eye Joe Boxford asks himself when he's hired by Evan's father Benny to find the murderer.
Joe needs some help, and enlists the services of Tal Linear, owner of The Linear Bar. But sparks begin to fly between the two. As romance heats up between them, they attempt to solve the branding crime.
As the suspects start to pile up and weird relationships unfold in West Stockton, Joe and Tal begin to unravel a heinous crime. That is, until Tal vanishes and Joe thinks his sleuth buddy is going to be the killer's next victim.
Does Joe have the skills needed to be a hero and save Tal from the killer's secret agenda and solve the crime? Or will Joe fall flat on his face and lose his reputation as a private investigator as well as his new lover, Tal Linear?
Tal didn’t move from his seated position on the sofa. Instead, he stared at me and said, “What about that iced water. Is it still for the taking?”
“I can get you that.”
“If it’s not a problem.”
“Of course not. Don’t be silly.”
I was gone for a few seconds and returned to his side. To my surprise, he had his T-shirt pulled off, rolled in a ball, and placed at his right side on the sofa.
I licked my lips and eyed up his solid and furred torso of ginger-colored hair. The view of his muscles, freckles, and designed dents on his chest was nothing less than impeccable. And the sight of his pert nipples, which were massive and strawberry-hued, brought shivers of enticement to the nape of my neck, stinging my shoulders. I said, “Tal, you’ve misplaced your T-shirt.”
“It’s extremely hot in here. Is your A/C on?”
It was hot. Maybe too hot. “Your nipples are hard.”
He rubbed a palm over both, grinned at me in seductive play, and said, “They are, aren’t they? How do you think that happened?”
I wasn’t going to sleep with him. I couldn’t mix business with pleasure like that, and wouldn’t. It was one of my rules, which I had never broken, and didn’t want to start breaking now. There was no reason to carry out a one-night stand with the man, even if I did find him rock-hard handsome. I had morals and a job to get done. He was going to be my assistant, and someone important in determining Evan Sting’s killer. Playing a game of naked with the bar owner was not going to assist the case in any way. Instead, I kept my desires for Tal Linear hidden and pent.
“It’s getting late,” I said. “I’m sure both of us have long days ahead of us tomorrow.”
“Are you kicking me out?” Two fingertips caressed his left nipple, paused, and glided over the prickled flesh again.
“One in your position could think that, Tal, but I’m really not.” It was a lie, but whatever. I couldn’t keep my mind clear and my appetite for him pent with his half naked body seated on my sofa. I couldn’t breathe right. I couldn’t find any rationale to my own heartbeats. I couldn’t --
“You are,” he said, and stood, snagging his shirt in one palm. “I get it, and know you want to be alone. How about I stop by your office around ten tomorrow morning and we can get things started?”
“That sounds like a plan.”
“Plans are what I’m about. Don’t forget that.”
“I’ll remember that,” I said, acknowledging his statement.
He was gone, and I was bummed.