Hi, friends, and welcome to Rhys Ford’s Tramps and Thieves blog tour! We’re so pleased to be bringing you Chapter Seven in this progressive story (if you’ve missed any of the previous chapters, the tour schedule is below) composed especially for the tour. Enjoy and also be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget for details on how to enter for the chance to win a $20 E-Gift Card.
One of the best things about being a mystery writer is that there are always murders to solve so I get to revisit a fantastic-to-write couple like Rook Stevens and Detective Dante Montoya. There are endless possibilities and plot lines for the characters, the city and their circumstances that I cannot wait to explore over the years. With the second book coming out, I wanted to do a blog tour that was just a bit of fun so in this serial, I welcome you to join Rook and his cousin, Alex, on what should be an estate sale of macabre curios but what awaits them is something neither of them planned for.
So sit back, be sure you read the whole story AND please enter the blog’s giveaway! One lucky winner will be chosen to receive a $20 USD gift certificate from the online store of their choice!
I hope you enjoy this small jaunt as the cousins set out on their quest and be sure to pick up Tramps and Thieves, the sequel to Murder and Mayhem. Published by Dreamspinner Press, it will be out on September 18th on the DSP portal, Amazon and other fine book stores.
About Tramps and Thieves (Murder and Mayhem: Book Two)
Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.
Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder…and sleeping with Harold’s wife.
For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West L.A. detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.
When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time isn’t on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.
“Okay, we know two things,” Rook said, ticking off his fingers. “One, there is an actual dead man outside. Two, the mountain lion is also outside. Still.”
“Are you sure?” It wasn’t that he didn’t believe Rook. No, it was just too long and unbelievable of the day to have this many disasters pile up on top of each other. The last time he’d been involved in something with the dead body, he met James and as far as Alex was concerned, he’d gotten all out of that situation that he desired.
“Am I sure?” Narrowing his eyes, his cousin gave him a filthy look. “Of the two of us, you’re the one the body count that rivals El Mariachi. I’ve really only had the one. Okay, maybe I’ve only had one at a time you’ve had handfuls. You should be an expert by now. Scully should be calling you up for advice —”
“As if Scully would ever ask for advice,” he snorted. “I meant, are you sure about the cat?”
“Did you miss the large sand-colored furry thing chewing on the guy’s foot? Did you perhaps think it was a Tusken Raider?”
“Sarcasm never helps any situation.”
“Sarcasm is like Tapatío,” Rook shot back. “It adds the right spice to anything. Imagine how much more fun baby showers would be if people didn’t take them so seriously?”
“The question is, what are we going to do?” Alex rubbed at his face, dislodging his warped glasses. He was tired, hungry and other than a few handfuls of water from the faucet to rinse the puke out of his mouth, he hadn’t had anything to drink. “We need to get rid of the mountain lion, get to the car and tell somebody about the dead guy. Preferably someone who won’t immediately call up the LAPD and tell either James or Dante what happened here.”
“Oh I don’t see that happening. Dante is like a spider. Something happens — I do something even remotely sketchy — and his web vibrates. He has feelers out everywhere. Even people who he’s met once for three minutes 10 years ago will suddenly remember his face and phone number as soon as they see me. It’s uncanny. I’m beginning to wonder if he microchipped me while I was asleep.”
“If I were him, I wouldn’t wait until you were asleep,” he muttered under his breath. “I would just tackle you, put that Taser gun-thing to the back of your neck and pull the trigger. I would want you to know what was be done do you.”
“See? And there you had doubts about being Mojo JoJo.”
Resting his head against the wall, Alex took a deep breath and counted backwards from ten. Hero worship would only carry him so far and as try as he might, there was no denying Rook’s enthusiastic denial of reality. Or maybe, Rook truly did live in a world where everything fell into place with little to no effort and the appearance of a dead body on the front porch of a house they’d pretty much broken into was simply par for the course.
“None of this makes sense. How did we get here? What are we doing?” Alex tried to whimper as manfully as possible but it was beyond him. “This is like a giant practical joke…except for the mountain lion and the dead guy.”
“I don’t think the dead guy is real either. He’s leaking. Dead bodies don’t leak. And they sure as shit don’t leak… what is that? Red Vaseline? Quick, what kind of goo do they put into those crash dummies? Like ballistic gel but runnier. Stretch Armstrong had it. They put it in the limbs so it’s not that heavy. That’s what that shit looks like. ” Rook pressed his hand against the window and peered outside. “Dude, what did you say? That this is like a giant practical—Holy shit, what the hell is that?”
A thin warbling sound penetrated Alex’s numb haze and he lifted his head, rubbing at the imprint the textured wall left on his skin. The wind shifted around the house, carrying the screech’s rising pitch with it. It was hard to hear and with the ripples of the valley’s uneven hills around them, the incessant wail bounced and dove about. It seemed to oddly be coming from above them and as Alex canted his head, the noise grew louder.
“Is… that on the roof?” Rook asked. “That totally sounds like it’s coming from the roof.”
“Shit, you did say that big pine tree was to close the house. Maybe the mountain lion climbed it. Suppose one of the windows up there is open. Suppose —”
“Look, before you grow a beard, don a white robe, and stand out on the street screaming about the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse coming, let’s figure out what we’re panicking about.” Rook took one last look out the window. “And no, that’s not the mountain lion. That asshole is now sitting on top of my car.”
“Help me,” a weak voice called out when they reached the top of the central turret. “Can you hear me? Oh God please hear me?”
“Well, either there’s a guy in a tree right outside the window hoping the mountain lion won’t get him or the dude is crazy, climbed a pine tree and is up there singing Metallica.” Rook stood at the top of the stairs, surveying the round room. “And a part of me really wants to believe that fucker is belting out the lyrics to One so we can just leave him there.”
It’d taken them 10 minutes to find how to get to the right turret. The desert mansion seem to have been built by deciding what direction a hall or staircase would take by flipping a coin. And whoever had done the flipping, had been drunk off their ass. Unlike most of the rooms in the house, this one actually had things in it. Horrifying things.
If there had been any doubt that the previous owner of the house — its now deceased owner — had been a fan of the macabre, it was evident in what was in that room.
There were body parts everywhere. Not just human parts, or adult pieces. There were alien body parts, tentacles, stuffed animals done by the worst taxidermist in all history, and lots of doll heads. Some of it — but the giant troll torso near one window — was obviously fake but most of it, including a silicone cast of an insectoid-featured face looked alarmingly real. Or at least he thought it did. Rook appeared to have other opinions.
“If that supposed to Kamen Rider, they got it all wrong.” His cousin was ignoring the voice barely penetrating the thick windows. He seemed more intent on inspecting the turret’ s treasure trove of special-effects pieces. “And it’s not accurate enough to be an actual insect head. It’s like they couldn’t decide on one bug so they threw in four or five. Look at this part right here. It is more scarab —”
“Can we possibly get the guy out of the tree first?” Alex strode over to the window bank, the glass nearly obscured by the thick needles brushing up against the side of the house. “It’s hailing outside. He must be freezing his ass off.”
“I don’t care if he turns into an asshole popsicle,” his cousin remarked. “This was all a practical joke. He was trying to scare us. Or somebody. I don’t even know who that is. He probably doesn’t even know who we are —”
“Rook!” The man shouted. “Open the window! I’m going to freeze out here.”
“It sure sounds like he knows you.” Alex struggled to open the heavy window. “The latch is bent. Come help me.”
“Maybe karma will kick in and the damned mountain lion’ll climb the tree and eat him instead of us?”
“We’re safe. He’s not.” He sighed. “It’s the right thing to do.”
“Give me one reason I should help the dickwad who’s been pulling this shit on us since we first got here?” Rook kicked at what turned out to be a bag of eyeballs, sending the round porcelain objects skittering across the floor. A few bounced down the staircase, a waterfall of pinging echoes whispering up the well. “One good fucking reason.”
“He probably has a cell phone on him,” he replied smugly. “And once I get that off of him, you have my permission to punch whoever that is right in the face.”
“Deal,” Rook sniffed. “Now get out of the way so I can break this asshole’s nose.”
Be sure catch the entire story on the Tramps and Thieves Blog Tour and enter to win the giveaway featured on every blog!
About the Author
Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and was a 2016 LAMBDA finalist with her novel, Murder and Mayhem and a 2017 Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Book Awards for her novels Ink and Shadows and Hanging the Stars. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.
She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal. Rhys shares the house with two cats, Yoshi, a grumpy tuxedo and Tam, a diabetic black shorthair, as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. She is also responsible for the care and feeding of a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.