Murder in Pastel

Murder in Pastel by Josh Lanyon

Book: Murder in Pastel by Josh Lanyon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Josh Lanyon
for attention, okay? I get all the attention I need.”
    “How much did you have to drink last night?”
    “Alcohol poisoning?” he hooted. “You’ve never seen me seriously drunk.”
    I had a feeling I wouldn’t want to. “I guess the real wonder is nobody’s tried to kill you before.”
    He chuckled. “I’m hurt. I thought we were buds. It’s what Adam wants, you know. He worries about me.” He studied my face to see how I responded to that.
    I had no response to that. Brett continued to eye me and then said thoughtfully, “You’ve got scratches on your hands and face. Your lover plays rough. I guess that lets Adam out.” He got to his feet. The sunlight shone through the gauzy nightshirt. He stretched hugely and his dick bowed to the audience. Me. “Let’s fuck.”
    I sighed and rose. Brett grabbed my arm as I started to walk away. “Don’t get snotty, Kyle. You’re my only friend. You’re the only person here I trust.”
    The survival instincts of a lemming.
    “Don’t you trust Adam?”
    His expression went blank. “Sure. But that’s different.”
    Something was glittering on the stair. I picked up Brett’s anklet. He snatched it out of my hand. “Shit! The clasp must be broken.”
    I remembered he had been wearing it the night before. Irene’s gaze had fixed on it as though she had never seen a man wearing jewelry. Maybe she never had.
    Brett chuckled, and dangled the anklet in front of me. “401K.”
    “Get it? Instead of 14 karat—never mind. It’s my retirement fund.”
    “What are you retiring from?”
    “You’ll see. Then we’ll find out how good a friend you are.”
    “I have my limits.”
    “Where Adam is concerned?”
    Something about the way he said that made me uneasy. “What the hell are you talking about, Brett? Spit it out, would you?”
    With all the cunning of a ten-year-old he taunted, “You’ll soon find out.”

Chapter Eight
    A dam sketched me and Brett together a number of times that summer. He seemed fascinated by some fancied likeness between us—or maybe it was the differences. In pencil, the fact that my eyes were hazel and Brett’s green, that his hair was blonde and mine brown, wasn’t noticeable; there was only the similarity of our bone structure, the shape of our eyes, the line of our noses.
    Having grown up with artists, I barely noticed when Adam would grab a napkin or the back of the TV Guide and start penciling, but it irked Brett. If he found one of those impromptu portraits of the two of us, he would crumple it up.
    A lot of things irked Brett. He ragged on Adam about his painting, about working in his “comfort zone.” Ten years ago Adam had found his niche. He was doing well financially which permitted Brett to live in his comfort zone. But Brett sneered at Adam’s stuff, called him the Painter of Graveyards, in mockery of Thomas Kincaid’s success.
    Me, I thought Adam’s work was lovely. Accessible. But as Brett pointed out, what did I know? According to Brett, Cosmo was the real thing, and Adam was a cheap imitation. Per Brett, Adam had sold out. He was going to end up a footnote on commercialism in the annals of Art History. You’ll be right there with Tommy Kincaid and the Marty Bell cottages.
    I don’t know if Brett’s barbs worked their way into Adam’s psyche, but they worked into mine. It was hard to keep my mouth shut sometimes.
    The evening after the party I was sitting on the verandah stairs beside Adam. Adam was idly pitching pebbles across the lawn at the sundial.
    “Did you read Joel’s book?” I asked.
    Adam grimaced. The next pebble pinged off the point of the sundial’s arrow.
    “He implies that he and my father…”
    After a moment Adam said, “I wasn’t there. I don’t know. Straight guys do experiment occasionally.”
    “But Cosmo was straight?”
    “As the shortest distance between two points.” There was something rueful in his smile that made me wonder if Adam had had a thing for

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