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 (7 page)

BOOK: Played to Death
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Wednesday, June 10


The next morning, I’d been at work around a half hour when Kristen Beach came to my door. “I saw your brother at the North Pool this morning.”

“Oh. I thought you had a pool at home.”

“I do, but it’s not a lap pool. I’ve decided to get serious about swimming this summer. For that I need a lap pool. And Kevin was there this morning.”

“Yeah, he’s moved back to Westwood. He said he was going to start swimming again.”

Kristen raised an eyebrow. “He told me he’s moved back.

“Abby broke up with him about a month ago. He bought a condo on Beverly Glen, across the street from Liz.” I leaned back and crossed my arms. “Ms. Beach. Are you interested in my brother?”

She grinned. “Maybe.”

“He’s not your type, you know. He’s three years younger than you.” Both Kristen’s ex-husband and most recent boyfriend had been considerably older.

Kristen dismissed that with a wave of her hand. “I’m beginning to think I need a new type.”

“So does Kevin. His ex-wife and Abby were both redheads who left him with big debts.”

“He didn’t seem to be in mourning.”

I considered that. “It fell apart gradually. Abby had been keeping secrets for over a year. And he’s been working all the time, and he’s moved twice in the past few weeks - I don’t know if he’s had much time to grieve.”

“I gave him my number.”

That stunned me to silence for a minute. “Um - did he ask for it?”

She grinned. “No, but he wanted it. He just hadn’t thought of asking. And he gave me his back. But I wanted to find out what his situation was from you before I called him.”

“Right now he’s tied up with the murder that happened at Graham’s wedding. But he might ask you to go hiking or take you up on the offer of a drink. I don’t think he’ll be making any long-term arrangements for a while.”

“That’s what I was hoping you’d say.”

“Just don’t ask him to go to the movies.”

She chuckled. “I’ll keep you informed.”

As soon as she left the office, I texted Kevin.
Kristen Beach?

He texted back almost immediately.
Why not?

Why not, indeed. I texted,
We will discuss this

His response was


Liz and I were at the research desk when my phone buzzed with a call. I glanced at the ID; it was Donna Aguilar. I said, “I’d better get this.”

Liz shooed me away. “Go.”

I answered as I pushed through the door to the outside. “This is Jamie.”

“Hi, Jamie, it’s Donna Aguilar. I’m at the UCLA PD. Are you able to come down here for a few minutes?”

“Um - sure. I’m on my way.” I went back inside to let Liz know where I was going, then hurried to the campus police department.

When I got there, I was pointed down the hall to a cramped conference room. Donna Aguilar, Dr. Fleming from the music library, and a UCLA police detective were gathered. Donna said, “Ah, Jamie, good. This is Detective Sharmaine Poston from Property Crimes.”

“Detective Poston.” I shook her hand. “What’s going on?”

Donna said, “We have something we’d like you to see.”

“Is this the footage from the music library security camera?”

Dr. Fleming said, “Yes. It’s from last Friday, at ten ‘til five. Right before closing.”

“Okay.” I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to add to the conversation, but I watched. Detective Poston cued up the recording. There were three patrons at circulation, all apparently returning reserve items and getting IDs back. So the person at circ didn’t see the young woman who strolled to the door, yawning, and stretched her arms over her head as she walked through the security gates, her bag gripped firmly in her hand rather than hung over her shoulder.

There was something about the bag… I said, “Is there a way to make that clearer?”

“No, but you can see the original.” Detective Poston turned her laptop toward me. I squinted at the screen and saw a dark-haired young woman whose face was mostly obscured - but I had no trouble identifying the distinctive pattern on the bag.

I said, “Oh, my
,” just as Dr. Fleming said, “Is that Hello Kitty?”

Donna stared at me. “Do you know who that is?”

I said, “West LA Homicide is working a murder that happened at a wedding in Holmby Hills this past Saturday. The victim was a young woman with dark hair who was a member of the string quartet that played at the wedding. She’d arrived with a big Hello Kitty tote bag and took it on break with her. After the break, her body was found by a caterer. Her bag was missing.”

Now all three women were staring at me. Donna said, “Do you know her name?”

“No. But I know she was a student at Pasadena City College. My brother Kevin and his partner caught the case.”

“Let me have his phone number.”

I gave Donna both Kevin’s and Jon’s numbers, and she entered them into her own phone. “Okay, thanks. I’m going to call them right now.” She left the conference room.

Dr. Fleming ran her hands through her hair. “At least it wasn’t one of our students.”

Detective Poston said, “It could be unrelated.” But she didn’t sound convinced.

I wasn’t convinced either.

As I was walking to Bunche Hall to teach my history class, I texted Scott.
Dark-haired girl with Hello Kitty tote likely stole Isaacson solo. Seen on security cameras leaving library.

He answered almost immediately.

Right? Theft tied to murder.

Shit. Guess I’ll be seeing Kevin again.

Very likely. Sorry.

I didn’t get a response to that.


When I got out of class and turned on my phone, I had a text from Pete.
Kevin coming to dinner.

I called him as I was walking back to the library. “Hey, did he tell you about Kristen Beach?”

“No, what about her?”

I told Pete about my conversation with Kristen that morning. By the time I ended, Pete was laughing. “Well, she’s different from his usual, that’s for sure.”

“This all feels kind of incestuous. You and me, Jon and Liz, now Kevin and Kristen?”

“Don’t get excited yet. They’ve only exchanged numbers. I don’t think he’ll be moving very fast.”


I got off the bus and turned right onto 17th Street just as Kevin’s car turned left from Wilshire onto 17th. He had to park a couple of blocks away, and we met at our front gate. I said, “Did Donna Aguilar call you?”

“Yeah. We’re meeting with her tomorrow morning to see the video.”

“I told Scott the cases were connected. He said he guessed he’d be seeing you again.”

“Probably. We need to talk to the girl’s family first.”

“I’m going to see if I can find any chat rooms or discussion boards about this composer. If so, it might be possible to find out who collects his music.”

When we went inside, the house smelled like soup. Pete greeted us from the kitchen. “Hope you’re hungry.”

I said, “Ravenous. What is that?”

“Leek and potato soup.”

When we sat down to eat, Pete said to Kevin, “So. Kristen Beach?”

Kevin raised his eyebrows. “Why not?”

Pete laughed. “No reason I can think of. You don’t think you’re moving too fast, though?”

“I’m not moving fast. I might invite her to go hiking. That’s it.”

I said, “From what she said, I don’t think she’s looking for serious either.”

“Good. For now, it’ll just be nice to talk to an attractive woman who’s actually read a book in the past five years.”

“Kristen’s smart and well-educated. You won’t have any problems there.”

Kevin said, “The coroner autopsied Elena Morales today.”

Pete asked, “Anything useful?”

“Yeah.” Kevin ate a spoonful of soup. “The coroner was able to measure the size of the hands of the murderer, from the bruises on her neck. It won’t help us a lot in identifying the killer, but it might help us rule people out. And another thing.” Kevin waved his spoon. “Elena was pregnant. About eight weeks.”

Pete whistled. I said, “Whoa.”

“Yeah. Now we’ve got to break
news to the parents.”

“Have any of her friends told you anything about a boyfriend?”

“No. So far we haven’t found anyone she confided in.”

I said, “Maybe she kept it secret because she was dating a minor. Brian.”

“That’s occurred to us.” Kevin frowned at his soup. “We have to get Brian to talk somehow.”


Thursday, June 11


I spent the morning grading papers. The graduate history course I’d been teaching as an adjunct had met for the final time yesterday afternoon, and I had to turn in grades by the end of the day tomorrow when the spring quarter ended.

It was the last time I’d have to teach as an adjunct. The first thing I’d decided to do after receiving the inheritance last month was to quit teaching these extra classes. I’d been doing it to close the salary gap between Pete and me, which had been around $16,000.

Not a problem now with $38 million in the bank.

I was nearly finished when Liz stuck her head in my door. “Jon and Kevin are on campus. Want to meet them for lunch?”


At noon, we walked over to the North Campus Student Center, where Jon and Kevin were seated at an outdoor table, digging into large salads. I’d brought red curry with vegetables from home, and Liz had pho. Kevin sniffed at our meals. “Smells good.”

Liz pointed her spoon at the salads. “You guys are eating healthy.”

Jon said, “It’s our summer resolution. If we have to eat out all the time, we’re at least going to eat healthy.”

I said, “I’m glad to hear that.”

Kevin gave me a meaningful glance. “I’m getting rid of
my bad habits.”

Including Abby, I supposed. “Have you been to the music library?”

“Yeah. We spent all morning there. At least we’ve figured out how Elena Morales got access to the stolen music.”

Jon said, “The reference section isn’t open to the general public, but students from other colleges can show their ID and go back there. They do have a record of Elena’s student ID number from PCC and her signature on the day she was there.”

I said, “That was dumb, signing her own name.”

“She had to show her ID. That would have been harder to fake.”

Liz said, “They don’t have to sign out?”


I said, “They need a system like we have for special collections. You have to swipe your BruinCard to get in and to get out.”

Kevin said, “We asked them about that. They said the cost of a system like that was prohibitive. And this is the first time they’ve ever had anything stolen from reference.”

Liz asked, “Did you find the boyfriend?”

Jon answered. “Not yet. Her friends knew she was seeing someone, but she was being coy about it. From some hints she’d dropped, they wondered if it was someone of a different race or religion. Her parents are very traditional. They wouldn’t have approved.”

Kevin said, “Her memorial service is this afternoon. We’re going.”

“To see who turns up?”

“Right.” Jon picked at the remains of his salad. “We’ve spoken to everyone on the list of her friends that the parents gave us, but they might have missed someone.”

Liz said, “Hoping this boyfriend will show?”

“Sure. Although he’s hardly likely to announce himself.”

I said, “But you still think the killer had to have an invitation to the wedding. Which doesn’t fit the boyfriend-as-killer theory very well. Unless the boyfriend was Brian.”

Kevin frowned. “We spent all day yesterday talking to all the caterers and valets again. The three PCC student caterers swore again that they didn’t know Elena, but we need to cross-check course schedules and instructors.”

Jon said, “We finally got to speak with the wedding planner. He’d been too rattled until yesterday. But he wasn’t any help.”

Liz said, “Do you have the guest list?”

Kevin snorted. “Not yet. The grooms are on a month-long honeymoon to Ibiza. They’ll provide it when they get back.”

I said, “But you - or rather, Branigan and her partner - talked to all the guests the day of the murder.”


“Who were the security guards at the wedding?”

Jon said, “Off-duty Beverly Hills cops. We’ve talked to them too.”

Kevin wadded up his napkin and tossed it onto his plate. “We’re getting nowhere so far.”

I said, “Maybe you’ll pick something up at the funeral.”

Jon said, “Right. Speaking of which, we’d better roll.”

“Yep.” Kevin stood and punched me in the shoulder. “Later, short stuff.”

We watched Kevin and Jon stride away. Liz said, “I can’t believe I’ve never asked you this. Why does he call you short stuff?”

I shrugged. “I’ve always been shorter than him. I don’t remember when it started, he’s been doing it so long.”

“A tauntingly affectionate nickname.”

I laughed. “Exactly.”

We went back inside for our reference shift. At 1:30, Clinton approached the desk. Liz said, “Hi, Clinton.”

He smiled. “The word of the day is
.” He bowed and walked away.

I said, “That one’s familiar.”

Liz looked it up and began to laugh. “It means
. Damn, how does he


After reference, I spent the rest of the day sniffing around the internet for chat about Jeremy Isaacson. I found a handful of potentially interesting sites. One was a blog, maintained by a fan, with a handful of ardent followers. I read through all of the entries, but there was no discussion of the stolen music. Since the theft hadn’t been reported in the news, the general public
know anything about it.

But, of course, if the thief was one of the commenters, he or she would hardly mention it on a public forum, would they? Unless they weren’t very smart.

When I searched Yahoo Groups for “cello,” there were 280 results. Too many. I skimmed through the descriptions; a lot of them were inactive, some of them only mentioned the word “cello” in a post somewhere, and a lot of them weren’t in English. I’d need some help with interpretation.

When I searched for “jeremy isaacson,” I found eight groups. Only two were active, and both of those were in English. Good. I made a note of them.

Google Plus had too many “cello” results to look through. A search for “jeremy isaacson” produced some live people, but no pages or discussions.

There were a bunch of other independent cello sites with chat rooms for members. I bookmarked the ones that mentioned Isaacson for further examination and shut down my computer.

Time to go home.

BOOK: Played to Death
12.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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