When ex-cop Jake Chivis is woken by the police and questioned about the mysterious death of his neighbor, he thinks his day can only get better. Things go from bad to worse when his lover, Mari Gale, brings him a horrific sex tape which appears to show a man being murdered.
As they begin to investigate the origins of the video, nothing is as it seems. Will they find the killers before they strike again? Or will dark secrets rising to the surface in their own lives erupt and tear them apart?
Reader Advisory: This book contains mentions of past rape and sexual assault. There are scenes involving strangulation, violence and murder, and references to suicide and suicidal thoughts. This book is best read in order as part of a series.
Book 3 in the Elemental Evidence series
The persistent pounding on his apartment door pulled Jake out of bed. He stumbled, bleary-eyed and yawning, into the living room and managed to stub his toes on the coffee table. “Ow, son of a— Hang on, hang on, I’m coming already,” he grumbled, and yanked the door open. Early morning sunlight slanted through the windows in the hallway. Framed in the golden halo of rays was Detective Inspector John Cordiline, looking like a fallen angel crumpled from the long descent, a haggard expression on his face, along with at least a day’s worth of stubble.
“Detective, what brings you by at”—Jake squinted at the clock—“six in the morning?”
Cordiline raised a finger to scratch his temple, just where his dark brown hair was fading to a softer shade of gray. It was a nervous tic, one of a very few that the generally self-assured Fitzrovia DI possessed.
“Official business, I’m afraid, Chivis. Do you mind if I come in? It’s to do with the bloke that lived across the hall from you.”
Leaving the door open, Jake backed into the apartment then wandered over toward the kitchen. This was going to require coffee, he could tell. The pot was set up to go off on its own in another half hour anyway so all he had to do was hit the brew button. As the door clicked shut, he turned back around.
“Coffee’ll be ready in a few minutes. What’s going on?”
Cordiline perched on the edge of one of the sofa cushions with his forearms resting on his knees. The shadows under his eyes said this was the wrong end of a long night, but that cloudy blue gaze still traveled over Jake from head to toe. A small smile tugged at his lips for a moment, then was gone.
“Did you know Mr. Sullivan?”
“Jim? I talked to him a few times in passing. I didn’t know him well. What happened?”
“Guy that runs the grocery store downstairs called in a complaint when he came in early to supervise a delivery. Said there was water coming through the ceiling and he couldn’t get anyone to come to the door. The PC that responded found Mr. Sullivan in the bathtub, water still running, head under the surface.”
“Aw, shit,” Jake swore softly.
“Yeah, that it is.”
“I take it the boys in blue found something that didn’t fit with an accident, or suicide, if they called you in?”
“Did you see Mr. Sullivan last night?” Cordiline asked, instead of answering. “Or see him with anyone new lately?”
“No. It’s been a few days since I last ran into him. I’ve never seen him bring anyone home. Our conversations were, basically, ‘good morning’ and ‘nice day’.”
Cordiline heaved a sigh. “I figured that might be the case, but I had to ask. We’re going to have to talk to everyone in the area just to see if anyone noticed comings and goings from the apartment at odd hours. You were closest. Sorry about that.” He rubbed his face with both hands, scratching at the shadow of stubble on his chin, the dark flecks dotted with silver. “Did I wake you?”
Jake made a dismissive gesture. “I would have been up in another half hour anyway. I like to run before it gets too busy.”
Cordiline grunted. “Did you say something about coffee?”
Jake nodded and turned, which was all it really took for him to reach the cupboard in the tiny kitchen. He pulled down two mugs, poured the coffee and set them out on the counter along with sugar and milk.
“Help yourself,” he said, sipping from his own mug.
Cordiline dumped a couple of sugars and a good splash of milk into his and knocked back half of it, seemingly immune to the heat.
“Good cuppa,” he said with a sigh of approval. “Not supposed to take sugar but I reckon I need it this morning.” His gaze wandered toward the half open bedroom door behind Jake. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”
Jake snorted. “You think Mari wouldn’t be out here already? He stayed home last night.”
Cordiline raised an eyebrow. “School night?”
“Wait, wait, what’s the right phrase? Ah, cheeky cunt. Yes. That’s the one,” Jake told him. “No. He’s starting his new job today.”
“He’s a bad influence on you. I thought you were such a polite young man.” Cordiline chuckled. He sobered quickly though, taking another good swig from his coffee. “So long as he’s still being good to you. You back at work yet after that Birthright business?”
“They offered to extend my leave another couple of weeks but I told them I’d rather get back to it. I go back tomorrow.”
The DI nodded. “Yeah, you don’t want to leave it too long, it’s harder the longer you stay away, so I hear. Speaking of getting back to it…” He drained his mug and set it down with a sigh. “Glad you’re doing okay, Chivis. You take care of yourself.”
“Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help,” Jake said.
Sadie Rose Bermingham
Sadie is older than she thinks she is, and has spent most of her life creating characters that take the place of children and other worlds that sustain her when the Real World gets too much to handle. She is the mother of vegetarian, vampire rock-tart, Rayne Wylde, and human/communications-media interface Dr. Mari Gale.
Since the turn of the century she has written in collaboration with her good friend and eternal muse, Bellora Quinn, with whom she has created the internet sensation, Rhythm of His Blood series, and Elemental Evidence, book one of which was published by Pride Publishing in 2016.
She collects penguins, loves the rock band, Suede, and is the adopted Mama of a tabby cat called Trouble.
Originally hailing from Detroit Michigan, Bellora now resides on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida where a herd of Dachshunds keeps her entertained. She got her start in writing at the dawn of the internet when she discovered PbEMs (Play by email) and found a passion for collaborative writing and steamy hot erotica. Soap Opera like blogs soon followed and eventually full novels.
The majority of her stories are in the M/M genre with urban fantasy or paranormal settings and many with a strong BDSM flavour.