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Interview with Adrien English


He is very drunk.

Preoccupied, tired, maybe a little lonely, he has let me refill his glass — ply him with liquor — in a way he ordinarily would not. It’s not good for him, for one thing — not with that tricky heart of his. And he knows he has a tendency to…rock himself in the waters. So he’s generally careful.

He’s generally careful about most things, and yet…yet he keeps getting involved in murder. And with the wrong men.

You can tell a lot about a guy when he drinks. Adrien English is not a sloppy drunk. In fact, he gets more careful. Very serious — owlish, even. But his dark hair falls untidily into his blue eyes, and he has this little trick of watching me from under his lashes. He’s not flirting, exactly…

He’s better looking than I expected. Better looking than he thinks — a lot better looking than he thinks. And yet it’s hard to put my finger on what it is. The eyes are lovely, of course. Nice nose. Stubborn chin. Mouth is a little too sensitive. Maybe it’s just the trick of good bone structure. He needs a haircut but his hands are clean, well-cared for.

No ring.

I start with that.

“How are things going with Guy? You’re still seeing him, right?”

He cocks a brow. I think he imagines it makes him look sardonic, but somehow it emphasizes the fact that his collar is undone one button too far, and his hair keeps falling in his eyes.

“Have you been talking to my mother?” he asks — he’s amused. Mostly.

“No. I just know at the end of The Hell You Say things were moving in that direction.”

“Ah.” He sips his fifth Italian margarita. “Things are good. Guy is…good.”

It’s my turn to raise an eyebrow. “What about all that occult stuff he’s into?”

He levels a long blue look at me and offers a kind of smirk. “Five fold kiss,” he says succinctly.

I have no idea what he’s talking about.

“So you’re happy?”

“Of course.” There must be something in his drink, the way he’s staring into those amber depths. “Everything is great. Everything is…going very well. We’re expanding the bookstore. And I just sold the film rights to my first book to Paul Kane’s production company.” He rubs his forehead — yes, he’s going to have one hell of a headache tomorrow morning. “Everything’s coming together. Natalie is working at Cloak and Dagger –”

I interrupt what is beginning to sound like rambling. “Do you ever hear from Angus?”

“Not so far…”

“How are you adjusting to Lisa’s remarriage? Do you like being part of a big family?”

“Oh my God!” he says, and that’s the first absolutely unguarded response he’s given. “Oh. My. God.” He raises his head and stares at me like…words fail him.

“It’s not going well?” Now that I didn’t expect. “But they all like you. They care –”

“Believe me,” he says. “I know.”

I have to bite my lip to keep a straight face. “Well, I think they’re good for you.”

He just gives me a long, dark long.

“I think you need more people in your life,” I insist. “Maybe even a cat.”

“A cat?”

“Every bookstore needs a cat.”

He rolls his eyes, and now he’s ignoring me. I study his profile. Yes, that is one stubborn chin.

You can tell guys who’ve grown up with money. Even though he’s just wearing Levis and a simple white tailored shirt, he has this…air. It’s more than grooming. It’s more than the well-worn Bruno Magli loafers or the Omega watch. I don’t think he realizes how much he’s been pampered, protected — not really.

“What is it about you that seems to attract murder and violence?” I ask.

“Me?” Now I have his full astonished attention. “If you’ll notice –” he’s enunciating very carefully “I haven’t been involved in a murder since — in nearly two years. Coincidence? I think not.”

“You don’t think you’re bad luck or suffering from Jessica Fletcher Syndrome or something like that?”

He’s giving me a hard, un-Adrien stare. “Why don’t you ask me what you really came here to ask me?” he says quietly.

It’s my turn to look away. When I glance back, he’s still watching me — I’m apparently having more trouble with this than he is.

“All right. Did you read my interview with Jake Riordan?”

His mouth twists. “Yeah. So?”

“What do you think?”

“What is there to think?”

“Do you think Jake’s happy with the choices he’s made?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“Are you happy with the choices he’s made?”

He opens his mouth, then closes it. Gives me a wry smile. All at once he seems a lot more sober. “He had to make the choices that were right for him, and I’m all right with that.”

“Do you think if Jake came out, you could forgive him?”

“There’s nothing to forgive.”

“Do you think if Jake came out, you could have a future together?”

He says flatly, “That will never happen. Jake will never come out.”

“But if he did –”

Impatiently, he says, “I don’t want to talk theoretical bullshit. He won’t. He can’t. It’s moot. There’s no point talking about it. There’s no point thinking about it.”

“All right, already.”

He grimaces, tosses off the rest of his margarita.

“Do you still love Jake?” I ask softly.

“No.” He doesn’t hesitate, he meets my eyes. He shakes his head.

“But you did? Once?”

His smile is a little bitter as he rises not quite steadily from the table. “Probably,” he says. “It was a long time ago.”

~*~*~*~

Find out more about the series of Adrien English Mysteries here.

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An interview with Cass D’Angelo from Deadly Vision by Rick R. Reed

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I met with Cass on the back porch of her little house in Summitville, PA. Her seven-year-old son, Max, played in the yard, in spite of the still chilly early spring temperatures. Cass, understandably, kept a watchful eye on him and I also noticed how she would, every so often, glance up toward the hills, where so much death had recently occurred.

RR: Well, Cass, you’ve been through a lot lately.

CD: You could say that.

RR: The press is calling you ‘the reluctant psychic’ and saying that you’re name fits you. Why is that?

CD (rolling her eyes): I don’t put much stock in what the press says. But they’re right when they say my so-called psychic abilities came to me reluctantly. I never asked to be able to see into crimes and especially not the murders of those girls right here in Summitville! I wish it had never happened to me, but I hope that in a small way, I was able to help the families of those girls. They say I’m like the Cassandra of myth, who was given the gift of prophecy—and I use the term gift loosely here—only to have no one believe her. I can say I know a little bit about how that feels. I never even knew of Cassandra until all this happened.

RR: So have you had this gift, or curse if you’d rather, all your life?

CD: No! For most of my life, I’ve been a pretty ordinary small town gal (who happens to like other gals…I suppose that sets me apart, at least here). This all started last summer when Max here ran off just before one of the biggest storms of the summer. It came sweeping in so fast and I was worried about him, so like a stupid woman or a good mother, I went out into it and ended up getting almost struck by lightning. Lucky me! I only took a tree branch to the head.

RR: And that’s where your abilities came from?

CD: I guess. That’s when it all started, anyway…this being able to see things I wasn’t able to before.

RR: Never had any feelings like that before?

CD: God, no. Maybe I wouldn’t have made half the mistakes I made if I had this second sight they credit me with. Maybe I would have won the lottery or something instead of waiting on tables down at the Elite Diner.

RR: There’s been a lot of publicity about you since the whole business with the ritual killings and everything else that happened last summer. I’ve heard you’ve been approached by TV, book, and movie producers.

CD: That’s right. And I don’t want any of it. I don’t want people looking at me like I’m some kind of freak. I don’t want desperate parents calling me to help find their lost children. I don’t want to exploit this thing to make myself famous, or even rich, although I could sure use some of the money they’ve talked about.

RR: So why not?

CD: As I said, I don’t really like the limelight. I like my life as it is: simple, with just my son and… (Cass blushes) and the new woman in my life, Dani.

RR: But haven’t you had any more visions?

CD: Once in a while, I get a glimmer, not of anything bad, just more like intuition. I’ll tell you: I would be very happy to not see the kind of things I saw last summer. No one should have to see what I saw…or go through what the families of those girls went through. I’m just sorry I had to be a part of it.

RR: So do you think your days as a psychic detective are over?

CD: I never was a psychic detective. I was a woman who saw some things, like dreams, that maybe helped. I don’t know.

RR: But wouldn’t you like to help other people who are in trouble?

CD: Mister, if I could help someone in trouble, I’d love to. But if I can do it without having to see into crazy stuff like murder, that would be even better. I’d just as soon donate my time to the Red Cross or something…

RR: So you’re really through with it all? This psychic business?

CD: I never started it! It came to me…and God forbid, or God willing, it may or may not come to me again. (Cass looks away, then back at me). I have to start supper. Max is going to be hungry and Dani’s going to be home from the paper soon. Did you get all you need?

RR: I think so, for now anyway.

 

Available from Amazon here

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I met David Eric Laine and Chris
Bellamere, his lover of several years now, in their home in
Silverlake. We sat on the patio, surrounded by the gardens David loves
and drinking a glass of Kistler Merlot from Chris’s well stocked wine
cellar. They were both dressed casually in jeans and Izod T-shirts.
Like everyone who meets him, I found I couldn’t help but stare at
Chris. I’ve seen some good-looking men in my day – I work the
Hollywood scene, remember – but never have I encountered anyone with
such raw animal magnetism. I’m not even gay, but I felt it.

Pat: You’re an L.A.P.D. Homicide detective. What made you choose to be
a police officer, when your parents wanted you to go to Harvard law
school?

David: It was my mother who wanted me to enter law. I did, for a year
at one of the big New England prep schools, but I hated it. I hated
the whole preppy experience. I may have been born into it, but it
never suited me. So, out of curiosity as much as anything, I took a
criminology course. I guess that’s what sparked my interest in law
enforcement. Then on a whim when I was staying in L.A. for an extended
visit, I took the L.A.P.D.entrance exam and passed.

Chris: With flying colors. He would have been a great lawyer. But he’s
a better cop.

Pat: So you decided to become a police officer, one of the notably
most homophobic outfits in the world. You didn’t see the dichotomy in
that? You were out to your parents, weren’t you?

David: Yeah, I told them before I left for college. They didn’t take
it too well at first. My Dad -stepfather – came around first. He said
he loved me too much to let something like that get between us. My
mother… Let’s just say she didn’t approve. But then I’ve gotten used
to that. She’s never approved of anything I did.

Pat: But how did you handle the L.A.P.D. ?

David: By not letting on, what else? Sometimes I think it’s the only
smart thing to do. I thought I had a handle on it. It was a classic
‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’situation. I figured I was safe as long as I
didn’t do anything stupid.

Chris laughs: You mean like fall in love?

David: I didn’t plan on that. Never in a million years did I think I’d
fall for anybody, let alone a guy like
Chris. He was so out of my league, and spoiled rotten to boot.

Chris: Hey!

Pat: But you never told anyone, not even your partner? What was it
like working in such close quarters with an openly homophobic man like
Martinez?

David: It’s rough. I had to watch very word out of my mouth. I didn’t
dare look at another guy in case I gave something away. If I had to
enter a gay bar after a suspect or witness he’d razz me about getting
hit on by some cute joto, his charming little term for faggot.
Sometimes, though, I just had to give in to it. So I had a rule: Not
in my backyard. I allowed myself a once a year holiday in Palm
Springs. Everyone thought I was just going to the big car show there.
No one asked questions. I just never told them I booked a room at the
Hacienda and cruised the local gay bars.

Pat: That made you uncomfortable?

David: Who wants to think they’re slaves to their libido? I wanted to
be in control, not let lust control me.

Chris: Thank God, he got over that.

David: I may not be so uptight these days, it doesn’t mean I want to
air our private lives in public. It’s no bodies business what we do in
the privacy of our bedroom.

Chris: What about the stuff we do in the living room? The kitchen —
oh, what about the car? (Chris is grinning now) You know how much I
love that bucket seat.

David: (Looking exasperated) Chris.

Chris: I know, I know. Loose lips and all that.

Pat: (Clearing my throat) Once you were outed, what was the attitude
of your fellow officers?

David: Not very enlightened. Some of them liked to leave me gifts.
Condoms, invitations to join gay hot lines, one charming D even left
me a .45 slug. I guess he was saying I should use it as a courtesy.
What’s one more dead faggot, right?

Pat: Have you come to terms with that? Or do you let it bother you?

David: I think I’m okay with it. I think I’m a good cop, but face it,
all cops run into a lot of hatred just being a cop. The uniform
triggers a lot of enmity.

Pat: Have you ever found the discrepancy of your income versus Chris’s
created any issues? A lot of relationships, gay or straight are
strained when one partner makes so much more than another.

David: I’ll admit we had some rocky moments in the beginning. I
couldn’t possibly give Chris the kinds of things he could buy himself,
and he wouldn’t stop buying me expensive things, so yeah, it got ugly.
We found a compromise, though, that works most of the time. I pay for
half the living expenses – he just gives me his share and I take care
of the bills. What he does with his money is his business, though I
have to put my foot down sometimes when he wants to do something
foolish like buy me a BMW or something. You know how silly I’d feel
driving a car like that? (He flexes his muscles) Now if he wanted to
buy me a Land Cruiser, maybe we could talk…

Chris: You don’t turn you nose up at the clothes I pick up for you.
You know you look sharp in the stuff I buy you.

David: Yeah, I look good. Who doesn’t want to look good? But you look better.

Pat: (The look they share this time is just this side of incandescent)
I understand you like to refurbish old cars and antique record
players. You still do that?

David: Every chance I get. I got this great deal on a ’56 Chevy Coupe
a few years back–

Chris: You got a good deal because it was a piece of junk.

David: But a piece of junk with promise.

Chris: Okay, I gotta admit, you’ve worked miracles on it. Besides, who
can forget our first date in it. The one you wouldn’t admit was a
date? Things got pretty heavy that night–

David: I’m sure this guy doesn’t want to hear about that.

Pat: How do your parents take it now that you’ve been a police officer
for what is it, fifteen years? Haven’t you won several several
decorations? The Police Distinguished Service Medal, and the Medal of
Valor?

Chris: All before he came out. Since then? Zip. Bupkus.

David: My stepfather’s always been okay with it, he supported me from
the beginning. It’s my mother and grandmother who can’t come to grips
with it. I’m afraid the blood on my mother’s side is a little too blue
to accept something as plebeian as a public servant in the family.
She’s never said, but I think my mother is disappointed she won’t be a
grandmother.

Pat: Don’t you have a sister?

David: Sure, Ally- Alison. But she’s never married and the last time I
spoke to her, she wasn’t interested in having any kids. She’s got a
couple of Afghans, so I guess they’re her kids. She knew it would
upset Mom, so she never told her.

Chris: Right, your mother’s not a dog person.

Pat: You were adopted by your stepfather, Graham Laine when you very
young. Do you remember you biological father at all?

David: No. My mother told me he was shipped to Vietnam just after I
was born and he was killed there shortly after. She won’t talk about
him. She never even kept any pictures of him around, so I couldn’t
even tell you what he looks like, though I’ve heard my mother say I’m
the spitting image, so I guess all I have to do is look in a mirror.
Still, it would have been nice to have known him. I mean, did he have
family? Do I have aunts and uncles? Cousins? Mom would never say. It’s
a closed book in our house. It leaves a big blank hole in your life
not to know who you are and where you came from. I wish my mother was
willing to be more forthright, but every time I bring it up she shuts
me out.

Pat: When was the last time you were home?

David: A couple of months after Chris and I started living together,
just before Christmas. I guess part of me was hoping they would have
mellowed out and be willing to accept Chris.

Chris: Like that ever happened. They made it pretty plain I wasn’t
wanted there, though to be fair to him, David’s Dad was cool. But his
mother…Let’s just say she gives new meaning to the word bitch.

David: You know I don’t like it when you call her that.

Chris: Right, let’s not call the kettle black.

Pat: So you haven’t been back to see them again?

David: No.

Pat: Think you ever will?

David: Sure. (He shares a look with Chris) When hell freezes over.

~*~

L.A Heat is available HERE

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