Excerpt: Midsummer Law

Kirby dropped his pen and rubbed tiredly at his eyes. Reaching for his coffee, he grimaced when the mug was ice-cold to the touch.

He could make another pot, but really he should just go home. It would be warmer there, even if he’d just go stir crazy the way he always did, roaming around his empty house.

Making a face, he picked his pen up again—but his attention was then caught by the pale green post-it on which the pen had landed. The note had been stuck to his phone, but it must have fallen off at some point.

Merry Greyling was the name printed on it in his secretary’s tidy hand, with a phone number beneath. It had taken Kirby a week to learn that Kerry had a brother, and another week to track him down. It had been an interesting phone call.

“Hello. My name is Kirby Hindon, I’m Sheriff here in the town of—”

“Midsummer, I know. My brother is dead. I would imagine that’s why you’re calling.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, how did you know he was dead, Mr. Greyling?”

“My name is Merry. I felt it, Sheriff. So what did the fool do, try to leave or try to break my curse? Never mind, we’ll discuss it when I get there. Thank you for calling.”

Kirby shook his head, still not certain what to think of it all. A brother, and one who’d felt it when Kerry died. Not to mention the voice…he had sounded like Kerry, and yet completely not. Despite the grim nature of the phone call, and the strangeness of it…he could not get that voice, somehow cool and smoky, out of his head.

Sighing again, he tried to focus on his paperwork, but his concentration was shot now. May as well head home, then. Still, he managed to stall a good three minutes by straightening and organizing his desk, and another five cleaning out the coffee pot and getting it ready for the next day. Eventually, though, he had no reason to linger.

Nodding goodnight to the man on duty, he bundled up in his coat and gloves and slipped outside. Though technically it was still fall, it was wasting no time turning into winter. The air was biting, and biting hard. Turning left outside the police station, shivering, Kirby walked the four and a half blocks to his little townhouse.

Climbing the steps, he placed a hand on the frosted glass top half of the door, then softly whispered the words to release the protective spell he habitually placed on his home. Too many punks pissed off at the Sheriff for ‘ruining our fun, man’ had made him more than a little cautious. Slipping inside, he closed and locked the door, then reset the protection spell.

That accomplished, he began to remove all the accoutrements of Sheriff, setting the harmless stuff on top of the little cabinet-table in his entryway, putting the more dangerous items safely away inside the cabinet. Lastly, he hung his work hat on its hook next to the black Stetson he wore when he was off duty.

Finished with the first routine of the night, he dragged himself upstairs to go through the second—shower, pajama pants, stand around trying to decide what to do the rest of the night. At least, he thought with some satisfaction, his heating wards seemed to be holding. Three days now and his house was still toastier and cozier than central heating alone could make it, even after Ferdy had fixed the furnace. It was just below freezing outside, but inside he could stand around in just an old pair of black sleep pants and be perfectly comfortable.

If the wards continued to hold, he’d have to try extending them to the front porch; then he wouldn’t even have to get dressed to fetch the morning paper.

Yawning, wishing he wasn’t too keyed up to sleep, he abandoned his bedroom and padded downstairs to the kitchen. He deliberated there a moment, staring at the coffee machine, then gave a shrug and a silent fuck it and set a pot of hazelnut coffee to brewing.

Then he went to the fridge to investigate the possibilities for a late dinner. He didn’t turn up a whole lot, but there was enough to make a couple of turkey sandwiches. He stifled a sigh. He’d have to go grocery shopping soon, but ugh, that was where Mrs. Holly always cornered him. He was really sick of her poor attempts to settle him down with this nice boy or that sweet girl.

Not a single person in Midsummer was his style. The closest he ever saw was a bunch of wannabe and poser high school kids, and that was not even remotely the same thing at all. He supposed he should just get over himself, but…

He glanced toward the hallway, where he still kept the picture of him and Randy together—the last one. Three months later, Randy was dead, and Kirby had eventually left Midsummer for college because staying had been killing him.

God, first Randy, and now Joni was dead. It made him tired. He should have made certain she’d just run off, instead of simply assuming—

But, well, it had hurt a lot, looking at her and seeing Randy. He hadn’t tried to look for her because some part of him was relieved she was gone, and now he’d have to live with that. Shaking his head, feeling way older than thirty four, he set all the sandwich fixings on the table and went to go pour a cup of coffee.

He’d just taken his first sip when the doorbell rang. Damn it. He really hoped there wasn’t some emergency. Now that he was actually home and warm, with fresh-brewed coffee, he didn’t’ actually want to go out again.

Even if he didn’t exactly want to stay in and go crazy.

Sometimes, he made no sense even to himself.

He set down his coffee and walked out of the kitchen to the entryway, unlocking the door and opening it—and staring in surprise at an all but vibrating Nicholas, the fifteen year old son of the couple who owned the diner on Main Street. “What’s up, Nic?”

“Sheriff! Sheriff! There’s a man what’s here to see you. He’s real strange, Sheriff. But dad told him where to find you, and I think Officer Kent pointed him here, and mom and dad told me to come let you know—that’s his car now!”

He pointed at a sleek, sporty little black number rumbling down the street.

“Thanks, son,” Kirby said, amused as always by the speed at which news traveled in a small town. “Run along home now, I can handle this.”

Even if he was in only his sleep pants, with nothing more than this mother’s amulet for magic and protection. Who the hell would be coming to see him at this hour? And from out of town, at that.

He stood waiting on the stoop as the car parked on the street in front of his house, stifling a groan as he anticipated the neighbors talking up a storm about this one. He’d have to dodge Mrs. Holly for two weeks straight.

But all thoughts of Mrs. Holly and everything else fled as the driver stepped out of the car. His entire body went tight with immediate want and he struggled in vain to regain his equilibrium, but holy shit. He couldn’t see much of the man’s face in the dark, with the way his shoulder-length hair fell across it, but the rest of him…

The rest of him was all that the kids tried so hard to emulate with torn lace and black make-up, but never really achieved. He wore well-fitted leather pants and heavy boots, and a leather jacket cut to mid-thigh and as beautifully fitted as the pants. Beneath it, he wore a shirt that could have been a perfectly ordinary button-down except that it was made of layers of black and red lace. Around his throat was a silver chain threaded with more black lace.

As he drew closer, Kirby could see the ruby studs in his ears, the various rings on his fingers, the bracelets on his wrist. He wore purple eye shadow that should have looked bad against the touches of red, but really only looked damned good, and black lipstick that made it damned hard to stop looking at his mouth.

But as he reached the stairs and looked up, even lust could not keep Kirby from a startling revelation. “Holy shit. You didn’t say you were Kerry’s twin brother.”

The black lips twisted bitterly. “Not by choice. You must be Sheriff Hindon. My name is Merry Greyling. Is now a bad time to find out how and why my brother’s dead?”

Kirby shook his head and stepped back, motioning him inside. “No. Come in, please. I’ll go get dressed. There’s coffee and sandwiches if you want them.”

Merry only nodded, and strode past him, and despite everything Kirby was sucker punched by lust again as the smells of leather and lace and a hint of lemon and strawberries washed over him. He swallowed, hard, and went to get dressed.