A snippet

This is from BAD HABITS, my first Lux mystery:

Keon drove to the Black Dog Pub a short distance down the street and close to his apartment.  We found a small table in a corner, and a few people waved at him as he passed.  He met a lot of people as a chef.  A few smiled my way, too.  I’d interviewed my share of experts for articles, in and out of town.

A man sitting at the bar got up and walked toward us.

“Speak of the devil,” Keon muttered.

Almost six feet tall and stocky with blond hair and blue eyes, he grinned at me but talked to Keon.  “Hi again.  I talked to one of your brothers tonight.”  His gaze never left my face.

Keon frowned, not hiding he was irked.  “So I heard.”

The man nodded to me.  “Aren’t you going to introduce us?  Offer me a seat?”

With a sigh, Keon motioned to a chair.  “Detective Petersen, this is a longtime friend of mine Lux Millhouse.”

He sank into the chair next to mine.  “You can call me Pete.  Everyone does.”

Keon motioned for three beers, then leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and hunching his shoulders.  “Any ideas who shot the guy in the parking lot?” he asked Pete.

“Not a clue.  Not much chance of catching him either.  Drive-by shootings and gangs are too random.”  He returned his attention to me.  “What kind of journalist are you?”

The question threw me off balance.  “How did you know I was a journalist?”

“Tyson mentioned it.”

Oh.  “Freelance,” I told him before taking a sip of my beer.  “My next assignment is Drugs in the Midwest.  I might give you a call for information.”

He pulled out a business card and handed it to me.  “Can we trade?”

I dug for one of mine and gave it to him.

“Mind if I call you for a drink sometime?”

“Why not?”  He seemed nice enough.  It never hurt to have another contact I could call.

Keon’s brows drew together in a scowl.  “Are you two done flirting?  I came here to relax.”

Grinning, Pete pushed out of his chair.  “Nice seeing you, chef.  Hope to eat at your place sooner rather than later.”

Keon watched him return to his friends at the bar, then turned to me.  “Do you give your number to anyone who asks?”

His prickly mood caught me by surprise.  “He seemed decent enough.”

“For a cop.”

“You’ve never had any trouble with cops before.”

“Maybe it’s just him.”  He took a sip of his beer.

I laughed at him.  “You’re not in the best mood tonight, but you’ve had a lot on your plate lately.  You’re more worried about Tyson than you admitted, aren’t you?”

“Maybe.  I don’t like it that you’re involved in this.”

“How could I not be?  You guys are like family to me.”

“But we’re not family, are we?  You forget that sometimes.”

I stared, hurt.  His comment felt like a slap in the face.  “Are you telling me to butt out, that this is none of my business?”

“No, I never think that.”  With a sigh, he pinched the bridge of his nose.  “I’m trying to tell you that. . .well, that. . .“ He stumbled to a halt and shut his eyes, frustrated.  When he opened them again, he was calmer.  “Never mind, I’m being stupid.  This is coming out all wrong.  I must be tired.”

I immediately reached out to touch his arm.  “Let’s drop it for tonight and just enjoy our beers.”

He grimaced, still upset, but nodded.  He raised his glass to me.  “Thanks for coming with me tonight.”

We clinked drinks and purposely talked about other things.  After our second beers, he stood.  “Ready to go home?”

On our way out, I glanced at the bar and Pete was gone.  So were his friends.  On the drive to Keon’s apartment, I said, “It’s been a big day.  When we get to your place, it’s straight to bed for me.”

That seemed to frustrate him again, and I frowned, puzzled.  I could usually read Keon really well, we’d known each other so long.  But something was off tonight and I wasn’t sure what it was.


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