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 (9 page)

BOOK: Played to Death
11.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Friday, June 12


Jon called me as I was walking from the bus to the library. “You are cordially invited to a summit meeting at UCLA PD at noon.”

“A summit meeting? About what?”

“About those discussion sites you found. We’re going to decide on an approach to using them.”

“Um - okay, but why do you need me?”

Jon snorted. “Do you think any of us know how to find those sites?”

“You have a point. I’ll see you then.” I hung up and sighed. I’d have to eat lunch early.

At 11:45, I locked the office and walked to the campus police station with a card listing the URLs of all the sites I’d bookmarked. The receptionist directed me to the same conference room where I’d watched the video. Detective Poston from the UCLA PD, Donna Aguilar, and Dr. Fleming from the music library were positioned on one side of the table; Kevin and Jon were across from them. I stopped in the doorway and said, “This looks like boys against the girls.”

Kevin gave me a look -
What the hell? Don’t say shit like that
- but Donna and Detective Poston laughed. Donna said, “No way. We’re all in this together. Jamie, can you show us what you’ve found?”

“Sure.” There was a computer at the end of the table, already booted up, the desktop projected onto the far wall. I opened a browser and began showing the sites I’d found.

When I’d finished, Dr. Fleming said, “Which do you think would be best?”

I shook my head. “I narrowed it down as much as I could. But I don’t know enough about cello music to even guess at which of these might be useful. You’d probably have a better idea.”

Dr. Fleming gave me a wry smile. “I wish I did. Unfortunately, my background is in vocal music.”

Kevin said, “Scott would know.”

Donna asked, “Who’s Scott?”

I said, “My - um - friend who plays cello with the Philharmonic. He’s the one who gave me the details about the Isaacson piece that was taken.”

Dr. Fleming perked up on hearing that. “Would he help us?”

Kevin said confidently, “He’ll help.”

I gave Kevin a look -
Good luck with that
- and he grinned.

“All right.” Donna rubbed her hands together. “How will we approach this?”

Jon said, “If Scott can identify which site is the most likely to lead us to an Isaacson collector, we’ll ask him to join the site. After he’s established himself as a valid member, we’ll have him make some inquiries about collecting in general but never mentioning Isaacson’s name. It may not be productive, but we have to try this angle.”

Detective Poston said, “It sounds like a good plan.”

Donna said, “Agreed. We’ll need to get Scott to join the site ASAP.”

Kevin pulled out his phone. “Monday morning, 9:00? Jamie’s office?”

I said, “Um -”

Kevin gave me another look -
Don’t argue
. “We may be dealing with a killer who’s smart enough to check IP addresses. We need to run it through a randomizer, and doing that from the police department requires paperwork that we don’t have time for.”

I sighed. “Okay.”

“Excellent.” Donna stood; the meeting was dismissed. “We’ll see you Monday morning.”



Scott was at Du Vin, replenishing his stock of wine, when his phone beeped with a text. He looked at the screen and groaned. Jon Eckhoff wanted to know if he and Kevin could stop by.

He texted,
Not home at the moment. Will be there in thirty minutes.

Great. See you then.

Scott put his phone back in his pocket and thought,

Thirty minutes later, he’d just finished loading the wine rack with his purchases when the concierge called. He buzzed Jon and Kevin in and opened the door to wait. When they stepped off the elevator he said, “Just this morning I was thinking to myself, ‘Jeez, I hope the police stop by today.’ And here you are.”

Kevin growled. “Don’t be a smartass. We have a job for you.”

“I can’t wait to hear it.” Scott ushered them inside. “Can I get you a drink?”

Jon looked regretful but said, “No, thanks.”

“I hope you don’t mind if I have one.” Scott uncorked a bottle of white and poured a healthy portion. “I have a feeling I’m going to need it.”

As usual, Jon did the talking. “We know Elena stole the Isaacson score from UCLA’s library for someone. We suspect that person is a collector. Whether or not the collector is also Elena’s killer, we don’t know - although we doubt it. We figure there was a middleman. But if we can find the collector, we can find the middleman. We need your help with finding the collector.”

Scott took a healthy swig from his glass of wine. “How am I supposed to do that?”

“Jamie’s found some online discussion boards having to do with Isaacson and cello music. He’s narrowed them down as much as he can, but obviously neither he nor we are experts as to which might be the best. We’d like you to help us make that selection then join the site and take part in the discussion.”

“What? You want me to ask, ‘Hey, do any of you know someone who stole an Isaacson score?’ I don’t think that will work.”

Kevin snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous. You won’t do anything at first. Just chat a little about general things. Read old posts to see if you can find anything that might be useful. Once you’ve established that you have a legitimate interest in the topic, you can bring up collecting in general. Or maybe collecting of another composer. Then we’ll see what develops.”

Scott had never heard such a harebrained scheme. “I hope you’re not basing your entire case on this.”

Jon said, “Of course not. We’re still working our other leads. But we’d also like to retrieve UCLA’s property. This might be a chance to do that.”

Kevin said, “We’ll meet at Jamie’s office, Monday morning, 9:00. Unless you have a previous engagement.”

Scott took another drink. “Do I have a choice?”

Jon looked surprised. “Of course. This is entirely voluntary. At any time you feel uncomfortable, you can drop it.”

Scott swished the wine in his glass, thinking. “Okay, fine. What harm could come from hanging out on a chat site?”

“Excellent.” Jon grinned. He and Kevin stood, and Jon held out his hand. “Thank you. We’ll see you Monday.”

Scott shook Jon’s hand and smiled weakly. “See you Monday.” He saw them out and poured himself another glass of wine, then dropped onto the sofa, pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered, “


Saturday, June 13


We’d arranged a big group hike for Saturday morning - Ali and Mel, Jon and Liz, Kevin, Kristen, my brother Jeff and eleven-year-old nephew Gabe, and Pete and me. Kristen had invited us all to her house afterward for a cookout.

Jeff and Gabe arrived at our place at 6:30, Gabe dragging his feet and yawning. I ruffled his hair. “Too early for you, Gabers?”

“Mm hm.”

Jeff said, “He’s going through a growth spurt. Both boys are. All they want to do is eat and sleep.”

Pete handed out bottles of water to Gabe and Jeff. “Gabe, you wanna hit the head before we go?”

“Yeah.” Gabe climbed the stairs like he was going to the guillotine.

Jeff watched him go, grinning. “He’s acting a bit. He’ll be ready to go once we’re on the trail.”

I said, “You should have brought Colin too.”

“Nah. He had an appointment to Skype with Steve this morning.”

Colin, who was thirteen, was being homeschooled through middle school. Pete’s brother Steve, an aerospace engineer, was helping out with physics and astronomy lessons. I asked, “How’s that working out?”

“Beautifully. Val sends Steve the curriculum, Steve assigns Colin readings based on the lesson, then they go over it when they meet. We really appreciate Steve’s help.”

Pete said, “He’s glad to do it. Steve likes kids, and he especially likes Colin. And he says it keeps him on his toes.”

Gabe came back downstairs, a little more energetic. “Dad said the lady whose house we’re going to this afternoon has a pool.”

“That’s right. Did you bring your trunks?”


We loaded backpacks into Pete’s Jeep and headed for Topanga Canyon. Jeff said, “Ben and I have three interviews this week for a partner.”

Jeff and his partner, Ben Khaladjian, had more business than they could handle in their veterinary practice but hadn’t been able to afford a third vet - until Jeff received the inheritance money and paid off the mortgage on the practice. “That’s great. Are they new graduates?”

“They’ve all been out a year. They’re completing internships, and they all have their licenses already.”

“Are you going to expand the building?”

“No. Since I’m taking over the farm visits, we don’t have to create an extra exam room. I’ll keep my office as is, and we have a room for the new vet’s office so we don’t have to do any remodeling.”

Pete said, “So you’ll only be on call every third weekend, now?”

“Right.” Jeff grinned and reached over to Gabe, ruffling his hair. “More time with the family.”

Gabe said, “

When we got to the parking lot, everyone else was already there. Kevin greeted Jeff and Gabe and introduced them to Kristen. Kristen shook Gabe’s hand solemnly. “Hello, Gabe. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Gabe was overawed but remembered his manners. “It’s my pleasure too.”

Jeff grinned. “Kristen, you may have a new best friend.”

Kristen winked at Gabe. “Perfect.”

We set off up the mountain, Kevin, Kristen and Gabe leading the way. Jeff fell to the back with me. “Are Kevin and Kristen - um…”

I said, “They’re just getting to know each other. Nothing’s going on. Yet.”

Jeff shifted his backpack a little. “Well. She’s - impressive.”

I laughed. “You have no idea.”

We paused when we got to Eagle Rock for a drink of water. Pete slapped his hand on the rock. “Three weeks from yesterday.”

Liz said, “Have you got the wedding all planned?”

Pete and I looked at each other and shrugged. I said, “I guess. We have to finalize the vows.”

Pete said, “It’s been easy. No flowers, no music, no professional photography, no venue, no tuxes, and a lowcountry boil for the reception.”

Jon said, “And they said that gay weddings would stimulate the economy.”

Everyone laughed. I said, “Most of them do. You all should have seen the one we were at last weekend. Except for the - um -” I remembered that Gabe was with us - “the incident, it was as lavish as they come.”

Jon smirked. “The incident. I like that.”

Pete asked, “Have you had any luck finding the mystery boyfriend?”

Kevin said, “No. We requested DNA on her - um - passenger, but that will take a couple of weeks, at least. And we haven’t made any progress in getting Brian Dalziel to talk to us. Elena’s parents didn’t know Brian’s family at all.”

Kristen said, “Have you looked on Facebook?”

Our heads all turned to Kristen simultaneously. Kevin said, “None of us have Facebook accounts.”

Kristen was astounded. “

Pete said, “It’s not a good idea for cops, or ex-cops, or families of cops, to have a major presence on social media.”

“Oh.” Kristen considered that for a minute. “I guess that makes sense.” She turned to Kevin. “Well, I’m on Facebook, if you want me to see if I can find anything about your musicians.”

Kevin grinned. “That works.”

“Good. Then we’ll do that when we get to the house.” Kristen put her backpack back on. “Let’s climb this mountain.”

When we got to Kristen’s house, she organized us, putting Liz in charge of condiments and Jeff and Pete in charge of the grill. Ali and Mel changed into swimsuits and got in the pool with Gabe. Jon, Kevin, Kristen and I gathered around her laptop.

Kristen opened Facebook and said, “What was this girl’s name?”

Kevin said, “Elena Morales. Pasadena City College.”

Kristen did the search. I said, “We still might not be able to see her account, right?”

“Right. It depends on her privacy settings. But…” Kristen clicked on a name. “Here she is.”

Elena’s page opened up completely. It was full of tributes to her. Kevin said, “Can we read through this?”

“Sure.” Kristen turned the laptop over to Kevin. “I’ll go supervise the cooks.”

Kevin, Jon and I read as Kevin scrolled. Jon had his notebook with him and was writing down names of friends. Kevin said, “We’ve talked to most of these people.”

“Yeah. Check on who’s commenting the most on her posts. Those are probably her best friends.”

Elena’s page seemed to me to be that of a typical teenager, with comments about music, TV shows and her college classes. Lots of “OMG” and “LOL.” She posted frequent pictures of her cat.

Jon said, “Had she friended her parents? If so, there’s probably not much useful on here.”

Kevin checked. “There’s no one else named Morales.”

We kept reading. At one point Kevin said, “Take a look at this.”

One of Elena’s friends had posted to her wall. “Did Mr. Wonderful do anything for your birthday?”

Elena had answered in a comment. “Oh, yeah, he DID something. LOL.”

Another friend had said, “Did he GIVE you something?”

Elena’s answer: “Haha. Nothing contagious.”

Jon sighed. “We need to see how the hackers are doing with Elena’s computer.”

BOOK: Played to Death
11.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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