I’m trying to write a non-fantasy romantic suspense. Sort of a side thing for fun and relaxation. This is my current beginning. Very rough. All the same, I need to know: What do you think? Seriously, what do you think?
He was on his way home just after midnight on a Thursday night when the call came through. A disturbance at Utopia, Trinity’s new night club and restaurant. Injuries onsite, ambulances needed. Chase was only a couple miles away and tired as he was, he wasn’t in the mood to go home yet. It wasn’t as if anybody was waiting for him.
Troopers had beaten him there. Flashing emergency lights strobed across the parking lot. People stood in groups or perched on the hoods of cars, watching the action. Not that there was any action to see, as far as Chase could tell.
He parked, leaving his suit jacket in the car. He paused to avoid the ambulance that rolled through the parking lot and up to the front doors of the club side entrance. A second one turned in a few seconds later, blowing past him in a cloud of diesel.
Chase drew a tired breath and let it out. What was he doing here? He should go home and get some sleep. He had a meeting with Sloan and Rossitch at 8:30 in the morning. He grimaced at himself. Who was he kidding? Even if he went home, he’d be lucky to get three hours of sack time. He’d flip channels on the idiot box while he ate, then he’d spend an hour or two banging his head against the Shore murder. Four years and he still didn’t have the killer. Not that he was allowed to investigate it anymore, at least, not officially, anyway. He shook his head, putting his frustration aside. Things on the trafficking case were heating up. That’s what the meeting was about. Once that was cleared, he could get back to work on the murder.
Chase rubbed a hand over the stubble on his jaw, still wavering. He hadn’t been inside Utopia yet. Now was as good a time as any to check the place out. His stomach rumbled. That decided him. Maybe the kitchen was still open and he could get a burger. All his refrigerator held was beer and frozen dinners. He didn’t doubt both were better here.
“Hey, Lieutenant, what’s homicide doing here?” Jason Thomas stepped away from the woman he was interviewing and reached out a hand to Chase as he approached. He was young, maybe twenty four. He was sharp, though, and ambitious. He planned to make detective by the time he was twenty five. Probably would, too. Chase liked him, even though at thirty one he felt like the kid’s grandfather. The downfalls of working homicide. No innocence left.
“Was heading home. Heard the call and figured I’d have a look around, maybe see if they were still serving food. What’s the situation?”
Thomas shook his head. “Domestic disturbance. Husband’s drunk and shooting pool, the wife is a cocktail waitress. He decides she’s flirting with the customers and goes after her with a pool cue. The manager yanks her out of the way before he can crush his wife’s skull, though the manager took a hard hit to her shoulder. The husband gets hotter and starts throwing punches. Customers and the bouncers take him down. Hard. He’s got a busted nose and maybe a broken wing.
Chase nodded without any sympathy for the bastard. He got what he deserved, attacking his fucking wife. He was probably lucky to have her.
“Good work, Thomas. I’ll leave you to it,” he said. The Trooper grinned at the praise. God, had he ever been that young?
He left Thomas to get statements and wandered up toward the club entrance. Tall pillows held up a broad overhang. Beneath danced a fountain. Not too long ago, the place had been a car dealership. The guy who owned it decided to divorce his wife, probably trader her in a newer model. It had been ugly. Her father owned the land the dealership was on and had kicked the husband off the property. The building sat vacant for awhile before someone had bought it to turn into a restaurant and club. From the looks of it, they’d done a good job. Word was that the food was good, too.
The old showroom was now the restaurant, with the bar housed in the repair bays. The exterior had been covered in a rock façade, with lush trees and flowers sending up a sweet, rich fragrance. White firefly lights wrapped the front pillars, outlined the windows, and layered the roof in a pattern like fish scales. A six foot iron fence with spikes along the top surrounded the outside the rollup bay doors like a large, flagstone-paved corral. Within was a covered stage, picnic tables, a dance area, and a barbecue pit. The stage was dark and the pit was cold tonight. Maybe it was a weekend thing.
The June night was warm and one of the bay doors had been rolled up. Inside, Chase could see pool tables and red-tile floors. Customers still shot balls, uninterested in the drama outside.
The scent of cooking meet wafted out to meet him as he drew close to the entrance. His gaze continued to rove over the spectacle outside, taking in the faces and other details.
Lightning thrust through the center of his chest. What the hell was she doing here?
Chase stopped dead, hard gaze locked on her. Four years since her mother’s murder, three and a half since he’d last seen her. Then she’d been pinched and washed out, her beauty hidden under the drab blanket of hard grief. Now–
She was a wet dream walking. Sunstreaked dark hair framed her face. Tanned skin smoothed over high cheekbones, a strong nose, and narrow chin. His gaze ran greedily over her. Her curves had firmed and her body was lithe and lean except for her breasts. They rode high and full beneath her vest and shirt. The last few years had turned tempered her. She held herself with assurance and confidence, like she didn’t take shit. His chest tightened as her wide, full mouth broke into a smile as she looked up at the paramedic. What the fuck? Was she hurt?
Chase didn’t think. His legs started moving before he knew what he wanted to do. He thrust through the rubberneckers, making a beeline for her.
Behind him, someone complained in protest, but Chase didn’t slow down. He couldn’t have stopped if he’d wanted to.