Readers always ask me where I get story ideas. I've made no secret of the fact that I strip-mine my own life and that of any friends and family members who'll let me (and even the ones who don't).
In January of this year I went to my beloved Hawaii to meet three generations of my family. I couldn't have gone at a more expensive time in the islands. I had no idea that Martin Luther King Jr. Day was bang-slap in the middle of an extended four-day holiday and booking accommodations was impossible.
I'd never seen the island of Oahu so packed. In fact, the traffic in Waikiki is getting worse by the day. It took me close to an hour getting from one end of the town to the other. Normally it takes maybe fifteen minutes.
By the time I found my rented room, it was slim pickin's on the island.
I have to explain here…I booked and paid for a place in plenty of time but it was an Internet scam. Yep. I lost all my money. Never thought it would happen to me. I share a house in Hawaii with my two cousins but the place has been rented for some time now so that wasn't an option. Neither was my brother's hotel - the $1,000 a night Trump Waikiki. My family members all had lush digs. My 83-year-old aunt called the sumptuous Moana Hotel home for the holiday.
Me, I found a place in Hawaii Kai on AirBnB that was so horrendous I not only became deathly ill with a recurring bout of bronchitis but I still have nightmares about the landlady.
On the surface, the place was clean but that was the problem. I wasn't allowed to touch or use anything, especially the TV and the kitchen. I went cold turkey on the idiot box. I may never get over the knowledge that I am addicted to that damned thing.
The landlady was such a crackpot obsessed with teak and with spying on her tenants, that she seemed to begging to be ripped to shreds in a book. She had a particular fetish with i comings and goings - especially when she found out I write romance novels. When I went to speak at a Sisters in Crime meeting I was afraid she would turn up and embarrass me.
But she was too busy punishing the other tenants in her condo.
During my 11 days with this weirdo, one of her guests vanished. I called the police and the ensuing investigation and all the stuff that went on provided huge fodder for Rainy Days and Mondays, my contemporary mystery just released with Amber Allure as part of the "Risky Business" Amber PAX™ Collection.
It was the perfect backdrop, all of this to my angsty tale…
When Mike deCosta arrives in Honolulu in search of his missing brother, Luca, his own life is a mess. His ex-boyfriend still has a hold on him, and Luca seems to have made the same mistakes with his abusive ex-lover, Greg. Not only did Luca take Greg back into his life, but moved to Honolulu with him in search of Greg’s dreams. And now, Luca’s been gone for four days and it was the couple’s crazy, drug-addled landlady who reported him missing. Not Greg. And now, Greg has vanished, too.
Keanu Māhoe is a private investigator and former cop whose specialty is tracing people who’ve come from the mainland and slipped through the cracks of Hawaiian society. He’s immediately attracted to Mike when they meet on the flight from Los Angeles, and the man’s haunting sadness makes Keanu want to reach out and help him. Keanu wants to show Mike the aloha way of life, the value of rainy days and Mondays...the other side of paradise.
...Keanu grinned suddenly. “Greg might be an ass, but he’s got good taste in music. We’re meeting at the Melissa Hotel to hear John Cruz performing. He’s a really great Hawaiian musician.”
That gave Mike some comfort. Maybe Greg would be forced to cough up what he knew.
What a pity that the rack has been outlawed. I would love to torture the truth out of that guy…
The ad really bothered him. “It just doesn’t sound like my brother. He’s a romantic, like me. He isn’t the type to go looking for a threesome, or a rich guy.”
“Does it sound like Greg?” Keanu asked.
“Yeah, unfortunately it does.” Mike tried not to brood.
The waiter rushed over, bringing everybody’s checks, and gave Mike a sweet smile. “Your breakfast is on the house. We all wish you much aloha and good luck finding your brother.”
Mike thanked the man and left him a huge tip. Maybe he’d get to like this island after all…
He drove with Keanu once more, the others following in their carpooled vehicles. Mike made a quick call to the Jensen car rental agency and they let him know his car was safe, but he’d still be charged whether he drove the car out of there or not. He hadn’t expected not to be charged.
With a pang, he remembered that Liam had texted him. He hadn’t returned the message.
Being here gave him the freedom not to feel the need to jump every time Liam contacted him.
“You okay?” Keanu asked as they joined the flow of traffic onto the H1 Freeway. Within a few short stops he saw a sign saying Pali Highway and they left the freeway. It turned out to be a pretty, wide-spaced, verdant street with majestic trees on either side and a towering set of emerald green cliffs ahead of them.
“That’s it. The Nu’uanu Pali,” Keanu said.
“Yes it is. It has quite a presence to it, in spite of its deadly history.”
“Or maybe because of it,” Mike remarked.
“Quite possibly. It’s interesting that you say that. I have an uncle who conducts ghost tours of the island every night and he brings folk up here. All tourists of course. The other night I came because I had a date who wanted to go.” He suddenly blushed. “Well, the guy freaked out when we got to the Pali Lookout.”
“Well, I always thought Uncle’s tours were a joke, but we stood at the lookout and I swear he was taking photos with his cell phone camera and all these blue dots floated across the screen. Uncle said they were paranormal ectoplasm. When the photo came out, we saw the distinct image of a young woman’s face.”
Mike stared at him. “For real?”
“Yeah. Killed the romantic mood.”
For some reason this made Mike the happiest he’d been in days. Keanu was a sexy man. Definitely his type. Meeting under these circumstances was lousy as hell, but sheesh, if he had to be here searching for his missing brother, what a hot guy to be doing it with.
Mike experienced feelings of attraction he hadn’t had for a long time...
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