The first chapter was a short one, so I have included two in this sample.
The last thing fraud investigator Morgan Reed expected to be doing during his recuperation from a gunshot wound was investigating his own father. But he had no choice. A mysterious seven-hundred-dollar cash withdrawal every month for the last nine was not chump change for a seventy-two-year-old man on a fixed income. Retirement and Social Security only went so far, and Morgan well knew Sedona, Arizona, was not a cheap place to live.
He was now in his fourth day of surveillance, which included following his father around to see what kind of life the man he’d lost touch with over the last few years really lived.
Using the small field binoculars he’d purchased at a pawn shop yesterday, Morgan watched his father coast his ten-speed mountain bike to a full stop before hopping off in front of a restaurant. His father seemed impervious to the Sedona heat, despite the fifteen block ride he’d just completed. Morgan had the air conditioning in the rented SUV cranked down low enough to make icicles, and still he felt like he was struggling for every breath. How his father handled the intense heat was a mystery to him.
Wiggling his injured leg to keep it from going to sleep on him as he squirmed uncomfortably in the seat, Morgan watched a beautiful younger woman open and hold the restaurant door for his father. He lifted his surveillance camera with its telescopic lens and zoomed in for a closer look.
Thank goodness he had brought the camera with him. He’d originally intended to use it for pictures of Sedona’s amazing red rocks. Instead he had been busy collecting pictures of his father and the multiple women he courted.
When Morgan snapped the picture, his father’s hands were gently holding her face. Yes, the restaurant woman definitely looked much younger. In fact, Morgan would have guessed the woman to be closer in age to his own forty-four years. Then he almost dropped the camera in astonishment as his father kissed her soundly on the mouth while she laughed. After his father released her, the woman yanked him inside while smacking him lightly on the back of the head.
“Damn, Dad. You big flirt,” Morgan said aloud, his voice barely louder than the roaring fan blowing cool air at his heated face.
Morgan had no idea what it was like to kiss a woman with the ease his father just did. He absolutely didn’t want to think about how jealous he was of his father’s easy familiarity with what appeared to be a damned good-looking woman by his own standards.
Morgan hadn’t realized how devoid his life was of real companionship until he’d spent two months alone recuperating from a gunshot wound. None of the women he slept with over the last couple of years had even bothered with a phone call to see how he was faring after his release from the hospital. Apparently, his value as a male was nil when gratuitous sex was out of the question. It had taken the shock of that knowledge for Morgan to see that he wasn’t even friends with any of them.
In fact, it was hard not to be jealous of his father in every way, Morgan decided. He had watched the man who raised him move from woman to woman in the last few days as if the entire older female population of Sedona existed only for his enjoyment. It was damned humbling to discover how romantically active the old man was compared to the inactivity of Mason’s own love life.
His father visited one woman in the retirement center, closing the door of her room and hanging a “Do Not Disturb” sign out for an hour. This was the first stop every day. Morgan couldn’t get access to that room without raising suspicions, but it was obvious from what he did see through binoculars and a discreet walk-by, that his father was a regular and well-known visitor.
Another woman he visited was in the hospital. His father had charmed all the nurses as well as her. Dressed as a janitor with a ball cap pulled low over his face, Morgan hadn’t drawn too much attention pretending to sweep the hall outside the room as he watched his father holding the woman’s hand.
Then there was the afternoon woman his father had sex with twice in the same week, or at least it had been twice already in the three previous days Morgan had followed him. It was just lunchtime now, but hell, if his father went back to see her for sex again today, Morgan would for sure feel the urge to put a gun to his own head. He was lucky to have a bed partner a couple times a month, and even then it wasn’t all night.
It had been almost scarring the first time to watch his father practically ravish the woman against her front door when he left. Morgan had ended up having to look away from what they were doing when his father’s hands got too busy exploring. But he hadn’t missed seeing the way the woman watched his father leave with an adoring expression on her face.
Truthfully, Morgan was just guessing they had sex. God only knew what they really did alone together at their age, but Morgan didn’t doubt his father was proficient at it—whatever the hell it was. And now his father was openly kissing yet another much younger woman that Morgan might even have considered dating himself, if he had been looking for a date in this town.
Morgan picked up his cell phone, connected the camera to it, and downloaded the pictures onto the memory card.
“If you keep kissing me that way, I’m definitely going to be ruined for all other men,” Thea Carmichael said when Gerald Reed finally let her go. She was startled as always by Gerald’s lips locked to hers for a smacking kiss.
“If you ever find a guy who wants to take my place, let me know and I’ll stop,” Gerald told her. “I’m not slipping you tongue, doll. I save that for Lydia. I’m keeping it PG-13 with you.”
“Get in here,” Thea told him smartly, dragging him inside and tapping him on the back of his mostly bald head. “How am I supposed to get a guy to even date me when you keep kissing me in public like I belong to you? You have enough women, Gerald Reed. I refuse to be one of your harem, even if you are the most perfect man who ever walked the earth.”
“Any guy who sees an old geezer like me as serious competition for a woman like you is definitely not worthy of you, sweetie,” Gerald told her, patting her butt.
“Yeah, Aunt Lydia comes in here all the time talking about what an old geezer you are in bed,” Thea teased, her voice sarcastic. “She brags so much I have to run her off. I haven’t had a real man in my life in years.”
“You’d think she’d be more discreet at her age,” Gerald said, rubbing his chin, secretly pleased that Lydia thought he was good enough to tell Thea about it. Lydia lit a fire in him, one that hadn’t burned so brightly in many, many years. She was the kind of woman that made a man forget his own name.
“Until she met you, my sixty-eight-year-old aunt was the most discreet woman I’d ever known. Aunt Lydia says you rock her world and she’s too happy to hold it in,” Thea told him, leaning against the bar as Gerald climbed up on a stool.
“You aunt is an inspiring woman,” Gerald said, leaning on the bar and looking sideways at Thea. “So is her niece.”
Thea rolled her eyes but smiled. “If I could clone you, I would. If I didn’t love my aunt, I’d lure you away. Instead, all I can do is feed you lunch and pine away hoping for someone just like you to walk into my life.”
“My son’s in town,” Gerald said slyly. “Morgan is forty-four. Still single. Good-looking, even if he does look like his mother more than me–God Rest Her Soul.”
“Is his heart as good as yours? No. I know this already. You know how I know this?” Thea demanded, watching her only waitress set Gerald’s usual half-sandwich and cottage cheese in front him and stand on her toes to kiss his cheek. Amy liked Gerald as much Thea did. There wasn’t a female born who wouldn’t fall instantly in love with Gerald Reed when he used his well-practiced flirting on her.
“I know this because if your son was like you, he would be snapped up already with his own version of Lydia glaring me down if I even so much as looked at him. I don’t think they make men like you anymore,” Thea said, smiling at him.
“Okay. Maybe Morgan is a little bit of a bitter bastard. It’s that damn job of his,” Gerald said, sighing. “I didn’t raise my son to have such a hard heart. It’s a shame that he does.”
“How is Morgan’s leg healing?” Thea asked. Morgan getting shot had been the first thing to shake the man since his wife died.
“Morgan’s fine I guess—considering he couldn’t walk until a month ago,” Gerald said, shrugging and digging into his cottage cheese. He didn’t like to think of what he had felt when he’d heard Morgan had been shot. His eldest hadn’t even told him until he’d asked to come stay for a few months. When you get old, your children cut you out of their lives, Gerald had learned. Most of the time he was okay with that. Now and again, it was a huge source of pain.
Gerald took a bite of his sandwich before continuing. “Morgan is getting around fairly well now. He tells me he transferred his physical therapy to a doctor over near Tlaquepaque center. Looks like he may be staying the whole four months after all. He’s started several renovation projects around the house and pretty much has turned the whole damn place into a mess. I’m letting him do what he wants no matter how irritated I get. He seems to need the distraction, but I hate living in a constant construction zone.”
Thea laughed. “Poor baby. You want to come stay with me while he’s here? I might like having a man around the house again.”
“Sweet offer, but Lydia would skin me,” Gerald said, winking. “Besides, you’ll never lose your wididity with me hanging around.”
“My—my what? I see that gleam in your eye, Gerald Reed. Does that mean what I think it does?” Thea asked, appalled laughter rolling from her.
“It refers to widows who grow their virginity back by not having sex for years,” Amy informed her, smiling widely as Gerald swung a knowing, proud smile in her direction.
“I shouldn’t brag, but I had a hell of a lot of fun relieving your Aunt Lydia of hers,” he said, going back to his food as both women snickered, blushed, and finally laughed.
Gerald liked his new bold reputation. Having been a quiet man for most of his life, he was pleased to have shed that timidity in favor of really living. He planned to love the current woman in his life with all he could, no matter how many times he helped lower her into a grave. Though it had turned him into a very emotional person, he had come to think of it as the natural order of things at his age.
“Well, if my aunt kicks off before I do, maybe you can relieve me of my wididity as well,” Thea said boldly. “Though I have to tell you I haven’t really missed sex all that much. But I do miss the foot rubs at the end of the day. Angus Carmichael knew how to rub a woman’s feet. No masseuse has ever come close to the talent he had in his hands.”
“Althea, you’re way too young not to miss sex,” Gerald said, shaking a finger at her. “Here. Before I forget.” He slid the envelope across the counter. “Put this in Delilah’s account and buy the medicine.”
Thea sighed at the envelope. She knew it had to represent a healthy chunk of Gerald’s money, and it killed her to take it.