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By Beverly Jenkins
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Beverly Jenkins
All right reserved.
California Highway I-5 North
You've given me a reason to love one more time,
Came into my life and made up my mind.
I knew you were meant for me . . .
"Reasons" by Frankie Beverly and Maze
Seated behind the steering wheel of the big eighteen wheeler, Reese Anthony checked his outside mirrors for the traffic flowing behind him, then hit the button on the dash to change the CD. Seconds later the first signature notes of "The Golden Time of Day" by Frankie Beverly and Maze flowed sweetly through the cab's surroundsound speakers and Reese smiled. He was a big Maze fan, and this particular tune was one of his favorites, especially on a long road trip with the day winding down. He was driving north on California's I-5 on his way to San Francisco, over 150 miles away. It would be dark by the time he made it to the yard, but he didn't mind. He had Frankie B and a small mountain of CDs to keep him company.
Reese was singing along with the lyrics when the phone rang. Frowning at the interruption, he eased down the volume and engaged the speaker for the communication component also routed through the cab's high-tech dashboard. "This is Reese."
"Hey, brother man. How areyou?"
The familiar sound of Taylor McNair's voice lifted Reese's lips into a smile. "Doing fine. How're things in Gotham City, Mr. Commissioner? How are Tara and the kids?" Six months ago Tay had been appointed the new commissioner of the World League of Football, but because of killer schedules, the two old friends hadn't talked in some time.
"Everybody's doing well," Tay replied. "How about you?"
"Can't complain. I'm in California road-testing a new solar engine for Brainiac Bryce." Bryce was Reese's thirty-three-year-old baby brother, a mechanical engineering genius and computer geek who'd graduated from MIT at the age of sixteen.
"He still churning out the designs?"
"Yep, and it's a wonder the boy's brain doesn't catch fire. He's bringing in more money than we can spend."
Tay laughed. "I wish I had that problem. How's your pops?"
"Good. Retired a few months back but he's still at the yard giving Bryce and Jamal fits." Jamal, sometimes known as Pinky, was Reese's thirty-five-year-old middle brother. If Bryce could design it, Jamal could build it.
"Make sure you tell Pops and Pinky and the Brain I said 'Hey.' "
"Will do." Reese took a moment to pass a small truck loaded down with mattresses, then swung the sparkling green cab with its unblemished silver trailer back into the right lane. "So Tay, you calling just to catch up, or is something on your mind?"
"Got a murder."
Reese frowned. "A murder? Who?"
"An older brother named Gus Pennington. Head janitor for the L.A. Grizzlies. His body was found a few mornings ago in his truck. Had a gun beside him on the seat."
"Sounds like suicide."
"LAPD thought so too, at first, but the gun was on the right side of his body. According to the family, he's left-handed."
"Where was the truck found?"
"Grizzlies Stadium parking lot. Police think it might have been a petty robbery, but the M.E.'s saying the body was placed in the truck after the murder. Something to do with blood loss or something. I'm not sure."
"Not a good way to start your new job."
"No kidding. I've been so busy hitting the ground running there hasn't been time to pull together an investigative office, but now I have to have one. Hoping you'll take the head job, at least temporarily."
Reese went still. Frankie Beverly sang softly against the silence. Reese had retired from the Detroit police force over a decade ago, swapping his Vice Squad badge for a law degree. Since passing the bar, he'd enjoyed a comfortable, albeit boring life coordinating the legal affairs for the family firm, Anthony Trucking International.
"You still there, Reese?"
"Yeah. I'm here. Thinking about your question." Reese didn't miss the day-to-day interaction with crackheads, dealers, and prostitutes, but after ten years of being cooped up in air-conditioned offices, he sometimes longed for the chaos and excitement of the good old days. For the last few months he'd felt restless, antsy. Would a change of pace help, even a temporary one? "The police don't usually like outsiders in the mix when they're running a case," he finally said.
"I know, but I've already talked to one of the captains. As long as you don't represent yourself as law enforcement to anybody you contact, the detectives don't have a problem with you asking questions on behalf of my office. For them, this isn't a high profile case. As I said earlier, they're pretty sure it was a petty robbery gone wrong, but as commissioner, I need to be satisfied that Pennington's death isn't tied to somebody involved with the league."
Reese thought that made sense, but did he want the job? Being away from his law office wouldn't present much of a problem. His staff was well-trained. If something came up that they couldn't handle, he'd only be a phone call away. Yeah, he needed a break from the corporate world, so why not? "Okay, Tay, I'm your man. Temporarily."
"Excellent. Let's go over some of the details."
Driving I-5 on her way back to her Oakland office, JT Blake snarled into the headset of her phone, "I could've killed him!"
Carole Marsh, her secretary, was on the other end of the line. JT was venting about the disastrous meeting she'd just had at the home of a potential new client, a young defensive back named Keith Owens, a recent graduate of USC who'd had the talent and the smarts to go pro. "I was under the impression that the kid and I would be meeting one on one. Nobody said anything about Mr. G3 being invited too."
Excerpted from Deadly Sexy by Beverly Jenkins Copyright © 2007 by Beverly Jenkins. Excerpted by permission.
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