A Name in the Dark
G. S. FORTIS
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2020 by Gilmar Fortis II
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without written permission of the copyright owner except for the use of quotations in a book review. For more information, address: email@example.com.
First paperback edition April 2020
Book cover design by Natasha MacKenzie
Images © Shutterstock
ISBN 978-1-7344909-1-6 (ebook - mobi)
Table of Contents
About the Author
Writing this book was a long and difficult journey. Were it not for the support of my friends and family, I could not have completed it.
Thank you to those who read the first draft and provided their notes and encouragement, including Amy and Doug De La Piedra, Barbara and Frank Lin, Amy and Jeff Seastone, as well as Mischa Livingstone, Kara Rosella and Taliesa.
Special thanks to those who helped me take the book across the finish line. I’m especially grateful to Susan DeFreitas, the wonderful editor whose insight provided focus to the story, and to the team at Red Adept Editing—Sarah Carleton and Virge B.—who helped me refine my writing.
I am also very appreciative of Lorna Reid, who designed the book’s wonderful interior, and Natasha MacKenzie, who created this beautiful cover.
Finally, I would love to express my gratitude to the city of Los Angeles. At times it’s been a love-hate relationship, but you have provided a home for me, for Darcy, and for her band of misfits.
BEING A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR sucks. There was a time when I thought I would work from my own office, helping people with answers, and making enough money to cover rent.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Some detective I am.
Angry muffled voices bleed through cinderblock walls—the fruits of my latest endeavor. To kill time until the argument is over, I sit on my bedroom floor, trimming my split ends with craft scissors. My caseload isn’t steady enough to allow me to pay the bills or lease an office, especially with the high rents in Los Angeles. I guess a twenty-six-year-old doesn’t exactly project the kind of experience people want when a marriage or lawsuit is on the line and they’re shopping for a detective.
Granted, this latest job was personal and off the books. For the past two months, my roommate, Paige, has been dating a loser. She met Brock at a Vitamin Shoppe, and they bonded over their mutual passion for health supplements. He’s a personal trainer—six foot four, two-hundred-plus pounds of muscle, and an absolute idiot. That’s not my opinion. This guy literally believes the earth is flat.
It was no surprise that Paige fell for him. In most respects, she is an incredibly intelligent woman. However, when it comes to men, her romantic compass is about as reliable as an online horoscope.
It’s fair to say I didn’t like Brock from the moment I met him. It wasn’t just because he put more effort into his looks than any woman I’d ever met or because his favorite—and only—conversation topic was working out. That alone would have neatly placed him in the same category as Paige’s previous boyfriends, a parade of unworthy but ultimately harmless morons.
But Brock was different. He never invited Paige to his place. They could only go out on weeknights. He was invisible on social media. He was hiding something.
When I tried to talk to Paige about it, she didn’t see it. That’s Paige for you—blinded by love. Since work was “light”—nonexistent—I decided to snoop into Brock’s past. My unsolicited and unwanted research led me to find out what he was hiding: a wife and infant daughter in Glendale.
I knew Paige was going to be devastated, but she was my best friend and needed to hear the truth. The news absolutely crushed her. I spent the afternoon pulling her out of her cocoon of grief and offering her a shoulder to cry on. Finally, she called Brock over to our loft. She was going to end it.
And here we are now, in hour two of “ending it.”
The argument intensifies, and I peer at the sliding loft door that separates my room from the living room. As the yelling moves, my eyes drift over my travel posters of Los Angeles and the vintage metal lockers I use as a wardrobe.
Paige’s voice rises as she rattles off a list of expletives describing how she feels about her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend. Part of me wants to be out there as moral support and backup. Then again, I’ve caused enough damage.
I put the scissors down and give my hair a break. They were just causing more damage anyway. I find a new way to distract myself with some leisure reading, The Egyptian Book of the Dead. A girl can never be too informed on ancient burial practices, and I need to do a bit of research anyway.
“Asshole!” Paige shouts from the next room. The text is too dense to read with all the screaming, so I close the hardcover volume and return it to a stack against my wall. There are piles of books all around my bedroom, like tiny skyscrapers forming a miniature metropolis.
The yelling escalates again. Paige roars, “Get out!”
Finally, we’re coming to the end. I stare at the cold concrete that separates us. As footsteps resonate through the wall, I imagine Brock lumbering to the front door, his tail between his legs, saying goodbye forever.
“I’m not leaving!”