GENRE: Gay Mystery Romance, Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
LENGTH: 25,821 words
While investigating a house fire, Detective Miles Tucker uncovers a similar case twenty years prior. Digging deeper, Miles learns that a survivor from the earlier fire might have some answers to his questions.
As a boy, Devin Treadwell survived a fire that wiped out his entire family. The trauma he suffered left him in a mental institution, but he has since made a full recovery and, though partially deaf and mute, now lives an independent life as a music teacher.
Devin’s life is disrupted when the handsome Miles suspects him of being a serial arsonist. But he wasn’t the only survivor. A boy named Sebastian who had been adopted by Devon’s family also survived the blaze.
Then an attempt is made on Devin’s life. Can Miles keep Devin safe from an arsonist who will stop at nothing to silence him? Or will the attraction between them jeopardize the investigation?
Arson and casualties were the key words Miles typed in the search box in the department’s database and he got more answers than he had expected, some dating back to the year 1990. Miles frowned, and he heard Blake, who was reading over his shoulder, catch his breath.
“Look, this happened in 1990, followed closely by a similar incident in 1991. Then it stopped, only to happen again in 2001.”
“A ten year gap? What does that mean?” Blake frowned, eyes following Miles’ finger tracing the years and events.
“Right. Then nothing happened until now, 2011.”
“Suddenly, this year alone there have been two arsons.” Blake gestured toward the monitor. “Check if they ever caught the arsonists.”
“Never,” Miles replied. “All these cases had fatalities and a suspicious someone who vanished from the crime scene.”
“Was it confirmed that the fires weren’t accidental?”
“Yes, they found the sources of the fire. Still, those cases aren’t closed yet as the police haven’t found the suspect.”
“Were all the victims dead? Any survivors?”
Miles scrutinized the data, scrolling up and down as he studied the information. “Yes,” he said slowly. “Oh, wait. In 1991, there were two survivors. They had suspected one of them was the arsonist. The other was a member of the family living in the house …”
“And …?” Blake prodded when Miles seemed to stall.
“The cops found three bodies, the father, the mother, and one ten-year-old boy. Two boys were missing.”
“Yup, Devin Treadwell, six, and Sebastian, eleven. Devin was the youngest in the family and Sebastian was adopted.”
“They were still kids.” Blake ran his hand through his hair in desperation. “Could they be our arsonists?”
“Are you crazy? Kids?” Frowning, he turned to Blake. “But then, neither of them could be a sixteen-year-old pool boy. Unless he’s a copycat, of course.”
“You’re right. He can’t be sixteen.”
Miles was tapping the table with his finger, lost in thought.
“What are you thinking?” Blake nudged him.
“There’s more in this report, or lack of it. Sebastian disappeared, vanished into thin air. No word, no news. Nobody knows anything about him after the fire.”
“How about Devin?”
“He was found hiding in the woods not far from their house. They sent him to a psychiatric hospital where he spent ten years. He went to college after he left the institution, and now he works as a teacher.”
“Do you think he can help with this case?”
“I wonder if he’s ever seen Sebastian again. It makes for a big question mark, doesn’t it, to lose a brother like that? Wouldn’t you want to know?”
“So we look for Treadwell?”
Miles grinned at his partner. He slapped his laptop closed. “Let’s get going.”