Among the Living

Among the Living

Jordan Castillo Price

PsyCop 1

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Victor Bayne, the psychic half a PsyCop team, is a gay medium who’s more concerned with flying under the radar than in making waves.

He hooks up with handsome Jacob Marks, a non-psychic (or “Stiff”) at his ex-partner’s retirement party and it seems like his dubious luck has taken a turn for the better. But then a serial killer surfaces who's not leaving any spirits behind.

 
PUBLISHED BY: JCP Books
ISBN: 978-0-9818752-3-1
PUBLICATION DATE: 2006
WORD COUNT: 29000
SEXUAL CONTENT RATING: 4 4 4 4
EBOOK READER RATING:
CATEGORIES: ManLove, Romantic Suspense
KEYWORDS: paranormal romance, mm romance, manlove, gay romance, gay mystery, mystery, ghost, psychic, thriller
 

EBOOKS BY JCP Books

EBOOKS BY Jordan Castillo Price

 
EXCERPT
COPYRIGHT Jordan Castillo Price/2006

Once upon a time if you told doctors you heard voices, they’d diagnose you as schizophrenic, put you on heavy drugs, and lock you away in a cozy state institution to keep you from hurting yourself or others.

Nowadays they test you first to see if you’re psychic.

~

Maurice was a sixty-two year old black man who had a lot more gray in his hair at his retirement party than he'd had when I first met him. We’d never been close in a way that some partners at the Fifth Precinct are. We didn’t hit sports bars after our shift for a shot and a beer. We didn’t watch the game at each others’ houses. We didn’t invite each other to family functions—not that I have any family to speak of.

Maybe it was the race difference. Or the age difference. But despite the fact that we didn’t connect on any sort of deep, soul-searching level, I was gonna miss working with the guy.

I stood behind the kitchen island and watched through the glass doors that led to the deck as Maurice ambled by. He laughed as he tried to balance a Coors Light, a styrofoam tray of bratwurst and a small stack of CDs. He looked genuinely happy. I supposed he was ready to retire—not like those guys you hear about that are forced out, along with all of their years of honed experience, in favor of some young buck who’ll work for half the salary.

Maurice set the CDs in a sloppy, listing pile next to a tinny boom box and drained his beer in one pull. I wondered if being retired would entice him into a long slide down the neck of a bottle, but then I felt a little guilty for even thinking it. Because Maurice never, ever made comments about my Auracel—whether I had taken any, or was out, or was rebounding after a weekend of “accidentally” doubling or tripling my dosage. Nothing.

Maybe that was the actual reason I was gonna miss him so much.

I turned away from the deck and made my way back down the hallway, and tried to remember where the bathroom was. I veered accidentally into the rec room and a bunch of black kids, mostly teenagers, all fell silent. I nodded at them and wondered if I’d managed to look friendly or if I just came off as some creepy, white asshole, then headed toward the basement where I remembered there was a half bath off Maurice’s seldom-used woodshop.

“That’s him, Victor Bayne,” one of the kids whispered, so loud that it was audible to my physical ears. Not that my sixth sense would’ve picked it up, given that I was pretty far into a nice Auracel haze, and besides, I wasn't particularly clairaudient. “He was my dad’s partner on the Spook Squad.”

I quelled the urge to go back into the rec room and tell Maurice’s kid that his dad would probably shit a brick if he heard that expression in his home. But that’d lead to a long-winded discussion of civil rights, yadda yadda yadda. Plus I’d be absolutely certain to come off as a creepy, white asshole then, in case there was any doubt at all.

I groped around the cellar wall at the top of the stairs for several long moments for a light until I realized the lights downstairs were already on. I made a mental note to rib Maurice about the availability of light bulbs greater than 40 watts come Monday. Except Maurice wasn’t gonna be there on Monday. Damn.

My eyes adjusted and I took the cellar steps two by two. I imagined what Maurice’s kid was probably saying about me to his cousins and friends. It was pretty plain that I was the psychic half of the Maurice/Victor team, since Maurice was about as psychic as a brick wall, and damn proud of it.

A pair of opposites forms a Paranormal Investigation Unit. The Psychs—psychic cops—do the psychic stuff, just like you’d expect. And the Stiffs—look, I didn’t name ‘em—are oblivious to any psychic interference a sixth-sensory gifted criminal might throw out there. It was rough at first getting used to riding around with a guy who put out about as many vibes as a day-old ham sandwich. But I got used to it, and eventually I grew to see the practicality of pairing us with each other.

Halfway down the steps I reached into my jeans pocket and found a tab of Auracel among the old gum wrappers and lint. I felt around some more, but only managed to locate the one. I’d brought three with me. Had I taken two earlier? I only remembered taking one in the car. Oh, and there was the one I took when Sergeant Warwick came in. The irony. Popping pills within spitting distance of someone capable of cutting off my precious supply.
I swallowed the Auracel, grabbed hold of the bathroom door and barely caught myself from slamming face first into Detective Jacob Marks, the golden child of the Twelfth Precinct Sex Crimes Unit.

He was a big, dark-eyed, dark-haired hunk of a guy with a neatly clipped goatee and short hair that looked like he had it trimmed every single week. He’d always looked beefy to me from afar, standing in the background, tall and proud, as his sergeant praised his work on high profile cases during press releases while the cameras flashed and the video rolled. But up close it was obvious that he was as wide as two of me put together, and it was all solid muscle.

I think I excused myself and staggered back a step or two. The Auracel I’d taken on the stairs was stuck to the roof of my mouth and I swallowed hard, worried that its innocuous gelatin coating would dissolve and give me a big jolt of something bitter and nasty. The Auracel didn’t budge.

“So,” Marks said, deftly swerving his bulging pecs around my shoulder as he maneuvered past me. I stood there gaping and trying not to choke. “Lost your Stiff.”

A comment about the crassness of calling Maurice a Stiff stuck somewhere around the last Auracel, as I realized that Marks not only knew who I was and what I did, but that he seemed to be flirting with me. Detective Marks—queer? Who knew? And besides, he was a Stiff, too.

Or maybe he was just a jerk and the flirting notion was merely something that my mind constructed from the high it’d gleaned from two Auracels and a few fumes.

I shrugged and raised my eyebrow. Nothing like being noncommittal. Especially when I only had access to five senses, and even those were pretty fuzzy around the edges.
 

 
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