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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Mayfield Speakeasy by L. A. Witt

Walter Mayfield has his hands full. He’s trying to keep the peace between his brothers, but at least the cops don’t bother him much about his illegal speakeasy. After all, the place is frequented by members of two volatile gangs, and as long as Walter can keep them from killing each other, the cops leave him alone.

That is, until Detective Joe Riordan comes through the door. But Joe ain’t interested in what’s being poured. He’s got three dead bodies, and all three of them are connected to one of Walter’s brothers.

Walter keeps the detective away from the speakeasy and cooperates as best he can with the investigation. Trouble is, he’s taken a whole different kind of interest in the detective. An interest that’s very mutual.

But no matter how much Joe and Walter like each other, the investigation threatens to disrupt the fragile peace in the Mayfield Speakeasy as well as tear apart the Mayfield family. And there’s also still a murderer on the loose, and Joe and Walter need to catch him—or her—before another body turns up...

Genres: Gay/Nostalgic Contemporary (1930s-Era)/Mystery/Detective/Suspense/Thriller
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (19k words)

Read a short excerpt...

...Maybe the information could have waited, but Walter convinced himself it couldn’t. He also could’ve called, maybe, but he spent the cab ride back to the Oleander Hotel telling himself he ought to do this in person. Where nobody could be listening in, you see. Never could tell who might be listening on these phones, especially in his speakeasy. The cops left well enough alone, but that didn’t mean they didn’t have an ear to the ground.

Maybe it could have waited and been over the phone, but Walter tapped his knuckle on the door to the room he’d stormed out of not two hours ago.

“It’s Walter Mayfield,” he said. “I need to talk to you.”

Commotion and voices on the other side made his heart jump. He took a step back. Other cops? Another suspect? Anyone he didn’t want seeing him walking into a detective’s hotel room at this hour?

The door opened, and a disheveled kid—couldn’t have been more than twenty—scurried past him with his jacket and hat against his chest. One shirttail hung out, and only one of his shoes was tied, and he kept his eyes down as he rushed past.

Dumbfounded, Walter watched him go. Pity he didn’t get much of a look at him before he turned the corner, because just the glance Walter’d gotten of his face and his front, he was good-looking. Broad in the shoulders, narrow in the waist, blond hair that was a bit longish, and—

A cleared throat spun Walter around.

Joe stood in the doorway. He was buttoning his shirt. That dark hair of his wasn’t as neat as it was earlier, and the way his face was flushed told Walter all he needed to know about why that kid had been in here. If he still wasn’t sure, the rumpled—but not entirely turned down—bed behind Joe filled in the rest. Walter didn’t dare look below Joe’s belt, or he might’ve forgotten why he was here.

Walter cleared his own throat. “I…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Joe gave a quiet, amused grunt, and Walter was sure he saw him give a quick, appraising down-up glance before he stepped aside and nodded for him to come in. “This is more important.”

And more dangerous, some voice in Walter’s head protested, but he followed Joe into the room anyway.

“You spoke to your brother?” Joe leaned against the wall beside the door.

Walter opened his mouth to speak. He’d come here for a reason, hadn’t he? Something important enough to bring him halfway across town at this hour of the night? Except he couldn’t get that blond-haired kid out of his mind. Or why that kid had been here, or the way Joe’d looked him up and down while he’d buttoned his shirt.


“Right. Sorry.” Walter shook his head and forced himself not to watch Joe rolling his sleeves to the elbows. “John knew the girls. All of them. He was…having affairs with all of them.”

Joe’s hand stopped, his sleeve only rolled halfway. “Was he?”

Walter nodded. “But he says he didn’t hurt them, and I believe him.”

Sighing, Joe continued working at his sleeve, tugging it across his powerful forearm and disheveling the sprinkling of dark hair. “If he didn’t, then who did? And why in the world are they killing women involved with John?”

“I don’t know,” Walter said. “But he gave me the name of the girl he’s got now. A Carol James. He says he’ll do whatever he needs to do to make sure this guy doesn’t hurt her, too.”

“Still doesn’t make sense. Unless there’s another girl who’s jealous and doesn’t want any competition.”

“Think that’s possible?”

“It is,” Joe said. “I’ll warn you, Walt, people are capable of things we don’t think they are. Nobody thinks someone’s a murderer till they’ve murdered and been caught...”

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