Read Played to Death Online

Authors: Meg Perry

Tags: #Gay & Lesbian, #Literature & Fiction, #Fiction, #Gay, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Genre Fiction, #Lgbt, #Gay Fiction

Played to Death (4 page)

BOOK: Played to Death
10.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



It took hours for the police to finish questioning all the guests. Then Scott, Stacy and Brian had to wait while the crime scene technicians searched all of their stuff and took everyone’s fingerprints. In all the confusion, Scott had completely forgotten to text Brent. When they were finally paid by the grim-faced grooms and released to leave, Scott realized that it was nearly dark out - it was almost ten.

Shit. He’d told Brent that he’d be home by eight. Oh well. He was sure that Brent had gone ahead and eaten. Scott was starving. When he finally got to the Merc and got out of Holmby Hills, he went to the drive-through ATM at his bank to deposit the check then stopped at In ‘N Out for a burger. He didn’t usually eat burgers, but after the day he’d had, he needed some comfort food.

When he got back to West Hollywood, the windows of his condo were dark. Maybe Brent had gone out. Scott hauled the cello to the elevator and pressed the button for his floor.

When he stepped out of the elevator and unlocked his front door, it took him a minute to register what he was hearing. It finally hit him as he reached to the wall and flipped on the lights.

Brent and a guy Scott had never seen before were in the middle of the living room floor. Brent was on his hands and knees and the other guy was fucking Brent. Brent looked up and yelled, “Shit!” The other guy yelled, “Fuck! I’m coming!” He let out a primal scream as he did and then fell on top of Brent. The two of them collapsed to the floor.

Brent scrambled to detach himself from the guy and got to his feet. “Scott, I swear, it’s not how it looks!”

The other guy sprawled out on the floor on his back, condom still on his deflating dick, and started to laugh. “Dude, it’s
how it looks.”

Scott went into the bathroom, Brent at his heels, bleating excuses. “You said you’d text me!”

Scott didn’t dignify that with a reply. He gathered all of Brent’s toiletries, walked back into the living room and threw them into the hallway. Brent squealed, “Hey! What are you doing?”

Scott picked up Brent’s clothes from the sofa and threw them at him. “Get out.”

The other guy was getting dressed, still laughing. “I warned you, dumbass.”

“What do you mean, get out? Scott, this was just a mistake! I’m sorry! It didn’t mean anything!” Brent was pulling his shirt over his head as he begged.

Scott grabbed the front of it, hauling Brent nearly off his feet. “No one cheats on me.” He dragged Brent to the front door and shoved him through it, then went to the kitchen bar and found Brent’s wallet and keys. He took his own condo key and building access card then threw the rest into the hallway. “I’ll leave the rest of your shit with the concierge tomorrow.”

“But - but -” Brent was crying now. “Where am I gonna go?”

“Not my problem.” Scott gestured to the door for the stranger, who was now fully clothed, standing in the living room. “Please leave.”

“Sure thing.” The guy picked up his own keys from the end table. “Sorry for the mess.”

“You did me a favor.” Scott slammed the door after them. He heard arguing in the hallway then the elevator door opened. Scott looked through the peephole in his door and could see the stranger holding the door for Brent while he gathered the belongings that Scott had chucked out the door. Then Brent got on the elevator and they left.

Scott leaned against the door for a minute. This had been the day from hell. He finished his hamburger and took his cello upstairs.


Sunday, June 7


Scott woke up the next morning feeling pretty good. The feeling didn’t last long - the events of the preceding day crowded in on him as soon as he regained full consciousness. He rolled to a sitting position and dangled his legs over the side of the platform bed, scrubbing his face with his hands.

Interminable wedding. Elena, strangled. Kevin Brodie. Brent.

And on top of that, he’d eaten a burger and fries last night.

At least he could do something about that one. He put on shorts and a t-shirt, shoved his feet into his running shoes, grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and rode the elevator to the top of the building, where the gym was located.

He had the place to himself, thank God. He wasn’t in the mood for neighborly small talk this morning. He chose a treadmill that faced the windows overlooking the Hollywood Hills - green and serene in the Sunday morning air. He walked for a minute to warm up then set a pace - eight miles per hour, nice and steady - and began to run.

It occurred to Scott to wonder whether anyone had called Wiley about Elena’s death. He considered doing so, then thought better of it. Let the cops do that. He was already on Kevin Brodie’s permanent shit list thanks to the way he’d broken up with Jamie. No need to engrave the inscription even more deeply.

He ran for an hour, then punched the button that would gradually slow him to a walk and let him cool down. He was feeling better - vaguely hungry. Maybe he’d make Belgian waffles. Then he’d get the rest of Brent’s shit bagged up for the concierge. Then he’d play.

When he stepped off the elevator, his improved mood disintegrated.

Kevin and another guy were lounging against the wall next to his front door.

Both of them were holding huge coffee cups. Kevin was his usual rumpled self, hair sticking out in several directions - an overgrown Dennis the Menace, with a gun instead of a slingshot. The other guy was tall and slender, sandy-haired, wearing jeans, desert boots, a t-shirt and a Dolce and Gabbana blazer that should have been out of reach for a public servant. He grinned when he saw Scott. Kevin scowled. “Scott. Might we have a word?”

There wasn’t any point in complaining that he hadn’t had his breakfast. “Sure.” He unlocked the door and let them in. “Can I eat breakfast while we have our word?”

Kevin plopped onto a barstool; Dolce and Gabbana sat down beside him. “Don’t let us stop you.”

Scott tried to control his facial expressions. He was not going to let Kevin Brodie ruin this morning for him. He took the waffle maker out of the appliance garage and began gathering his ingredients. “What can I do for you?”

“Let me introduce my partner.” Kevin indicated Dolce and Gabbana. “Detective Jonathan Eckhoff, Scott Deering.”

Scott saluted Eckhoff with a mixing spoon. “Detective.”

Eckhoff raised his coffee cup. “A pleasure, Mr. Deering.”

Yeah, right. Scott started measuring flour, sugar and baking powder. “What can I do for you?”

Kevin sipped his coffee, watching Scott. Eckhoff said, “We’d like to pick your brain about Elena Morales.”

Scott cracked his eggs and separated them. “I told you yesterday, I didn’t know her at all.”

“We realize that. We’re only talking about your interactions with her yesterday and the night before.”

Scott sighed. “Okay.”

“First, tell us about this quartet. How did you happen to be part of that?”

Scott explained again - he’d already done this last night - about Wiley and his quartet while he was beating his egg yolks. Eckhoff said, “So this quartet has a rotating cast of characters.”

“Right, except for Wiley. The students play for a year or two and then move on.” Scott added milk, melted butter and vanilla to the egg yolks. “Wiley can tell you a lot more about them.”

“Of course. But we wanted the perspective of someone who didn’t already know the kids.” Eckhoff sipped his coffee. “Was she any good? On the violin?”

“No.” Scott stirred his wet ingredients into the dry ones. “She was the weakest player of the three, to the extent that I wondered why Wiley had included her in the quartet.”

Eckhoff was interested in that. “Why would he?”

Scott shrugged. “The only reason I can think of is that it’s a bad year for violinists at PCC.”

Eckhoff mused on that for a second then moved on. “What else did you notice about her?”

“She was late.” Scott began beating his egg whites. “To both the rehearsal and the wedding.”

Kevin said, “You mentioned that yesterday. How late?”

“Ten minutes to the rehearsal. A couple of minutes yesterday.”

Eckhoff said, “That’s not very late.”

Scott frowned at him. “Call time is sacrosanct for musicians. If one person is late, it delays the entire ensemble. It’s bad behavior. It’s

“Ah.” Eckhoff seemed to get it. “A serious breach of professional etiquette.”


“You’d think that kind of behavior was more likely in prima donnas, not second-rate community college violinists.”

Scott snorted a laugh. He was starting to like this Eckhoff guy, in spite of himself. “Usually that’s the way it works. Not in this girl’s case.”

“Okay. Other than rushed, how did she seem when she got to the wedding yesterday?”

Scott paused momentarily while folding the beaten egg whites into the batter and tried to remember. “She was - pissy. I told her to get ready to play and she gave me attitude.”

“Did she say anything?”

“No, just the dramatic teenage eye roll.”

Kevin said, “She didn’t respect you.”

Scott spooned batter onto the hot waffle iron, and it sizzled satisfyingly. He closed the lid. “I’m not sure she knew who I was. Although it may not have made a difference.” He put away his ingredients and got out a plate. “Would you like a waffle?”

Eckhoff looked tempted. Kevin said, “Thanks, we ate already. Did she say anything to either of the other kids at all?”

“Not that I heard. We tuned, she got her music ready and we began to play.”

“No talk while the wedding was going on?”

“No. You learn that in middle school orchestra. When someone else has the solo, you sit still and keep quiet.”

“What happened at the break?”

“Like I told you yesterday. We played the recessional, then we had a ten minute break. I made the kids check their watches. Stacy left for just a minute then came back. Brian came back right at ten minutes.” The waffle iron light went out, and he turned to it. “Elena didn’t come back.”

Eckhoff said, “Stacy told us that Elena had a big bag with her. Do you remember that?”

“Yeah.” It had caught Scott’s attention. “It was one of those oversized, soft-sided things like you’d take to the beach. Big enough to hold a day’s worth of crap. She’d carried her music in it.”

“What color?”

Scott produced his own teenage-style eye roll. “It was Hello Kitty.”

Eckhoff and Kevin both laughed. Eckhoff said, “That’s a serious breach of etiquette right there.”

Scott grinned, in spite of himself. “No kidding.” He spooned raspberry preserves onto his waffle and took a bite. “Mm. Sure I can’t interest you in one of these?”

“No thanks.” But Eckhoff was nearly drooling.

Kevin said, “Did she take the bag with her on break?”

“Yeah.” Scott didn’t think Kevin would answer any questions, but he was curious. “What’s up with the bag?”

Kevin folded his arms. “It’s missing.”

.” Scott tried to think of what that might mean, and couldn’t.

Kevin said, “Did you take a break?”

“Hell, no. I wasn’t going to leave my cello unattended.”

“The kids left their instruments, though?”

“Stacy asked me to watch hers. Brian put his in its case. Elena left hers out on her seat.” He shrugged. “They knew I was staying.”

Eckhoff and Kevin exchanged a look of some sort, then Eckhoff reached into his inner jacket pocket. When he did Scott got a flash of his shoulder holster, and he swallowed hard on his last bite of waffle. Eckhoff held out his card. “If you think of anything else that might help, no matter how trivial - give me a call.”

“Sure.” Scott took the card, glad he wouldn’t have to call Kevin.

Kevin and Eckhoff stood. Eckhoff said, “By the way. Kevin tells me that you might know my girlfriend.”

Scott couldn’t think of
reason that he’d know a cop’s girlfriend. “Who is she?”

“Liz Nguyen.”

.” Liz was Jamie’s bestie at work. He’d liked Liz.
could explain the Dolce and Gabbana. “Lucky you. Liz is great.”

“Yep.” Eckhoff looked like he knew he was lucky.

“Does Kristen Beach still work there?” When Scott and Jamie had been together, Liz and Kristen had come with Jamie to a lot of Scott’s concerts. He’d liked Liz, but he’d

“Yes, she does.” Eckhoff grinned. “I’ll give her your regards.”



It was warm Sunday morning, with the warning from the weatherman that it would be hot by mid-day. Pete and I rolled out of bed early, ate cereal for breakfast and drove to Ali and Mel’s to move Kevin’s belongings.

Liz was already there; she and Mel were carrying boxes from Kevin’s closet to the garage, where Ali’s large pickup truck was backed up. Ali herself was at work; her xeriscaping crew often had to do commercial jobs on weekends while the establishments were closed.

Pete and I pitched in, and soon we had the truck and Pete’s Jeep full. Fortunately, Kevin didn’t have a huge amount of stuff. In two trips, we had everything moved into the condo. We spent another half-hour getting all the boxes moved into the proper room. As we finished, Liz got a text. She read it and chuckled. “Jon and Kevin just left Scott Deering’s apartment.”

I groaned. “What a way to start the day. For everyone involved.”

Liz and Mel left to do other things, and Pete and I stayed to unpack. After the ladies left, we looked around for a minute. Pete said, “I didn’t notice while we were carrying boxes. This is a nice place.”

“Definitely.” It was a corner unit. Two bedrooms, two and a half baths, a third smaller room that Kevin was going to use as an office. A large open-plan great room; one long, wide balcony opening off both the great room and the master bedroom; another shorter balcony opening off the other bedroom and the office. The kitchen wasn’t huge but it was big enough for Kevin, who didn’t cook much. The master bath featured both a whirlpool tub and a shower stall.

Kevin and I, along with Jeff and seven others, had inherited $38 million each from a man whose son had killed our mom in a drunk driving crash. We’d gotten the money four weeks ago. It had allowed Kevin to pay off the mortgage on the house that he’d bought a year and a half ago with Abby and to pay cash for this place.

I hoped he’d be happier here.

Pete stood with his hands on his hips. “Okay. How do you want to do this?”

“Why don’t you take the office and living room? Get his computer set up and get his books and stuff out of the boxes. I’d like to get all the boxes out of here today if we could. I’m going to take his bedroom and bathroom first, then the kitchen.”

“Okay.” Pete disappeared into the office. I heard him begin to pull boxes open.

I went into Kevin’s bedroom. His new bed stood against the wall to my left, facing out across the balcony toward the east, the green swath of the Los Angeles Country Club in the distance. Nice view. I wondered how long it would remain green under our water restrictions.

I sorted out the bedroom and bath, then went to the kitchen, where I found Pete looking in the fridge. He said, “It’s empty. Should we go to the store for him?”

“Yeah.” I’d lived with Kevin long enough to know what he liked. We went to Trader Joe’s and stocked up, making sure to include beer and Cokes. And plenty of raisin bran.

We made one last trip back to the condo and unpacked the groceries. Pete said, “When I’m done for the summer, I can be here to wait for deliveries once he starts getting furniture.”

“One more week, right?”

“Yep. Graduation is a week from Tuesday.”

“Good.” I looked around, satisfied that we’d done everything we could, then texted Kevin.
Got you unpacked, bought some groceries. Leaving your place now.

He didn’t answer immediately. Probably still interviewing people.

BOOK: Played to Death
10.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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