Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his boyfriend, Myrtle Beach homicide detective Vic D’Amato, find that the only thing more frightening than murder might be navigating their first holiday season as a couple.
A trip back to Pittsburgh to spend Thanksgiving with Vic’s large, exuberant family means dodging old frenemies and a bitter ex-boyfriend. A cold case comes back to haunt Vic when the murdered man’s ghost begs Simon for justice. Then a new murder in Myrtle Beach looks suspiciously familiar, and the dead woman’s ghost isn’t playing nice.
When Simon gets a vision of the next victim before the crime occurs, he realizes that all the murders are supernaturally linked. Catching the murderer will take his psychic sleuthing skills along with Vic’s street smarts to avert a tragedy. Can they do right by ghosts past, present and yet-to-come without ending up in the crosshairs of a killer for Christmas?
The November evening was perfect for walking, so they left Simon’s car and Vic’s Hayabusa motorcycle at the bungalow and walked to dinner. Beach Shack Pizza, their favorite place, offered a view of the surf without the wind that could get chilly this time of year. Simon and Vic settled into their booth and ordered a large pizza, half Hawaiian for Simon, and half Meat Lovers for Vic.
“You’re still freaking out about Pittsburgh.” Vic didn’t even make it a question.
“I’m meeting your family,” Simon said, fidgeting with his napkin. “What if they don’t like me?”
Vic bumped his knee under the table. “You’ve asked me that before, and I say the same thing, every time. They’ll love you. My brothers are assholes, but only to each other. I’ve been out to them forever, so it’s not a surprise. They’ll just be glad I’ve found someone. They never liked Nate.”
When a hostage situation Vic got pulled into in Pittsburgh several years ago ended up having a demonic twist, he nearly lost his badge. No one believed that there had been a supernatural angle to what went down, not even Vic’s then-boyfriend, Nate. Vic knew he needed to move away to get another job, far from the whispers and rumor mill. Nate refused to consider leaving the city. A friend’s connections landed Vic the job in Myrtle Beach, and fate eventually led him to cross paths with Simon.
“Great, a whole tribe of overprotective muscle men,” Simon replied, only partially teasing.
“Hey, my family fits every stereotype for the loud, expressive Italian family pinching cheeks and pushing food on you, except for one,” Vic said with a grin. “We’re not mobbed up. Just about everyone is, was, or wants to be a cop.”
“So I’ll either be very safe, or end up arrested.”
“You like it when I bring my handcuffs out,” Vic said, raising an eyebrow.
“Not at your mom’s house!”
Vic laughed. “My mother is a nurse. Trust me when I say, between raising five boys and a girl and her work at a downtown hospital, she’s seen everything.”
Simon knew he was overthinking the trip, but he couldn’t stop worrying. For the last three years, since he moved to Myrtle Beach, he’d gotten together with Tracey and her girlfriend Shayna for a “Friendsgiving” potluck that included a lot of the store owners on their stretch of Ocean Boulevard. Vic said he’d spent the last few holidays with his police partner, Ross Hamilton, and Ross’s wife and kids. They’d turned down both Ross and Tracey this year, for the pilgrimage north. Every time Simon thought about it, his stomach did flip-flops.
“Hey.” Vic reached across to touch Simon’s hand. “It’ll be okay. I want you to meet them. I’ve never really brought someone home before.”
Simon frowned, confused. “But Nate—”
“They knew Nate because he was a cop, and we were all cops together,” Vic said. “He always had a reason he couldn’t come for dinner or holidays.” He shrugged. “Looking back, that should have been a sign.”
If that was the case, then Simon definitely knew he needed to man up about the whole thing. I own a successful business. I have a Ph.D. I’ve written books, he told himself.
Your business is giving ghost tours and séances because you’re a psychic medium. Your PhD is in folklore, and your books are about ghosts, a nasty little voice countered. They’re going to eat you alive.
Vic stretched his leg out and ran the toe of his shoe up Simon’s calf. “Stop that. I’ve already told them all about you.”
“You have?” Simon nearly choked on his drink of water.
Vic gave him a look. “You thought I was keeping it a secret?” His eyes widened. “You did, didn’t you? Why?”
Simon looked away. “Jacen didn’t tell his parents about us until after we were engaged.”
“Yeah well, your ex was an asshole,” Vic grumbled. “My mom’s known almost since the beginning. She manages to monitor the Myrtle Beach news like a stalker, and she saw something about the Slitter case, so she called me. I was at the hospital, waiting for you to come out of surgery.”
Simon squeezed Vic’s fingers. “Oh, you didn’t mention it.”
Vic looked away. “There were more important things. Like you, taking a bullet.”
Simon and Vic’s first unofficial collaboration on solving a case caught the killer, but Simon ended up shot in the process.
“At least your mother called.” Simon’s relationship with his family was terse, at best.
“Yeah, well. Tracey shut down any suggestions about the hospital calling your next of kin,” Vic replied. He wasn’t looking at Simon, and Simon realized how much the incident still bothered him. “My mom figured out right away that I wasn’t just hanging around the hospital for my job.”
“Sorry I scared you.”
Vic turned back to him, and his gaze had an intensity to it that made Simon shiver. “You have nothing to be sorry for. You were fuckin’ badass.”
Simon’s cheeks colored, but before he could reply, the server brought their pizza. “So tell me about your family,” he said as they served themselves from the big pan, stretching out long, hot tendrils of mozzarella cheese.
Vic took a bite and waited to swallow before he answered. “I told you about mom. Dad’s a police captain now, runs a precinct over by the Strip District.”
Simon raised an eyebrow. “That sounds exciting.”
Vic chuckled. “Not that kind of ‘strip.’ It’s a strip along the river where the boats and trucks bring in the fresh produce, meat, and seafood, and that’s where a bunch of the wholesale grocers and commercial food supply stores are. It’s also open to the public, and it gets busy on weekends, but the real action is in the middle of the night, when the trucks and the boats come in. Maybe we can go down there and walk through a few of the big markets. It’s pretty cool.”
“And the rest?” Simon probed, talking with his mouthful.
“I’m the middle of five brothers, so Michael and Leo are older, Paul and Anthony are younger. All cops or at the Academy. Lisa’s the youngest, and she’s getting a degree in Criminology at Carlow. I won’t make you try to remember all the aunts and uncles, but you’ll be safe if you remember that the aunts are mostly nurses, and the uncles are either cops, FBI, or private security/ex-military.”
“I might swoon from all the testosterone.”
Vic gave him the side eye, and Simon grinned. “Wouldn’t do you any good. No one else is gay.”
“Are they okay with it? You? Us?”
Vic shrugged. “I came out when I was in the Academy. Figured if it was going to be an issue, I’d better know right away. There were some assholes, but the majority didn’t make a big deal out of it. My boss was supportive, and the guys I got assigned with didn’t care.” He grimaced. “Actually, they took the gay thing better than the ghost thing.”
Simon cleared his throat. “Which leads to my next question—”
Vic bumped his knee under the table. “I’ve already told my folks about the shop, and the tours, and that you’re the real deal. Actually, I think my mother wants to see if you can get a message through to my Nonna.”
“I’ll put out the call,” Simon said with a smile, still feeling a little unsure.
Vic seemed to guess his thoughts. “I know I gave you a rough time at the beginning, and you know I’m sorry about that. I believe in you. Captain Hargrove believes, or he wouldn’t have made you an official consultant. Ross believes. I’m not ashamed of your gifts or your shop, and anyone who throws shade can go to hell.”
Simon smiled at Vic, feeling the warmth of Vic’s words in his heart, melting some of his fears away. “I love you,” he whispered.
Vic nodded. “Back atcha.”
Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after.
Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.
On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.
Other books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, and Badlands. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!