On the verge of bankruptcy, private investigator, Mitch O’Reilly takes any gig that comes his way, while running his Eye Spy Supply shop in a forgotten Los Angeles strip mall. After two tours in Afghanistan, Mitch’s life amounts to operating his store, coping with his fun-loving sister, Josie, and scoring with anonymous men he meets online. That changes when he gets a break. A beloved comedy scriptwriter is murdered at a bathhouse, and Mitch is hired to prove the innocence of the club custodian. Adapting from a two-bit gumshoe to a high-profile sleuth proves more challenging than he expected.
As if Mitch didn’t have enough to deal with, charismatic bathhouse operator, Trent Nakos, enters his life. After a heartbreaking past, the manager is the definition of a man the brooding P.I. actively avoids.
Following leads from sprawling mansions to sketchy hoods is demanding but becomes more troublesome when deadly threats jeopardize the biggest opportunity of his career.
Length: 65,000 words approx.
Cover Design: UmeWorks
Trent sat at his desk, rested his chin on his fist, and flashed a mischievous grin. I struggled to look away from the rich golden eyes that complimented his olive skin. His wavy auburn hair looked tousled, but never moved. I guessed he spent time each morning nursing each strand in place for that perfect disheveled look.
He stared through me while stroking his scruffy chin. I debated whether he was flirting or looking past me in deep thought. If he caught me checking him out, he didn’t let on.
I broke the silence. “You’ve been under a lot of stress the past couple of days so we should get the questions out of the way.”
“Yes. We’ll talk while touring the facility. We’re reopening soon, for my sanity, I need one last walk-through. Follow me.”
We stepped into a TV lounge area. My eyes watered again.
“Sorry about the smell,” Trent said. “We’re taking advantage of the downtime to do some heavy-duty cleaning. I thought the scent would be gone by now.”
I nodded at the seating area. “Nice furniture. Like in the lobby.”
“They’re identical, except these are covered in plastic. They’re funny because they make farting sounds when the guys stand up, but it makes it easier to clean after hundreds of naked asses have been on them.”
They had also renovated the back of the club while keeping a different personality from the front and his office. The once-black walls were steel gray, and the black cement floors had been resurfaced with large, dark red tiles. I found it odd—it didn’t look the same, but it felt the same. I shrugged my shoulders and blinked my eyes to stop my heart from racing and skin from tingling.
“Let’s start in the sauna where he was murdered,” I directed. “Did he rent a room that night?”
“Yes, he always does. Room twenty-two is… was… his favorite, so we tried to keep it open for him. I’ll take you there after we see the sauna. The police cleared both. They took the tape down, but it’ll be awhile before I rent that room. It’d feel disrespectful.”
We walked through a narrow hall with many rooms on each side until we reached the sauna. Trent unlocked the door.
“Look inside. We haven’t turned it back on. We’ll have our guests use just the one in the back for a while. It’s bigger anyway.”
The small standard redwood sauna looked built more for home than a spa. The wall next to the door was smooth, and benches ran along the other three sides, except for the corner opposite the entrance, where the heater with hot rocks stood.
“The cops were thorough. I doubt you’ll find much.”
“How was he when he was found?”
His lower lip quivered. “He was naked on a mat, face down on the floor, with his ass to the door. He looked as if everything was fine, except for all the blood. The police took the mat for evidence. There was no sign of a struggle, so they think someone came in behind him. They say he most likely never saw who did it.”
I smirked. “Not that he could tell us, anyway.”
After growing up in Michigan and North Carolina, Brad Shreve criss-crossed the country while working in the hotel industry. In addition to working in hotels as a bellman, front desk clerk, and reservation call center director, he’s managed coffee houses, waited tables, sold potato chips off a truck and even hocked pre-burial funeral plans.
He credits Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak for developing his interest in art and storytelling. He’d spend hours on the floor sketching and painting and writing stories. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George gave him his first inklings that he’d like to be a novelist someday.
In addition to perpetually thinking of how to kill people, he’s a proud dad, a beach bum, and coffee house squatter.
He currently lives in the Los Angeles South Bay with his husband, Maurice.
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