Everyone's Dead But Us

A Tom & Scott Mystery

Tom & Scott Mysteries (Volume 11)

Mark Richard Zubro

Minotaur Books

Chapter One

I gazed from the headland toward the moon rising over the swelling waves, then shut my eyes and listened to the sea crashing on the rocks far below. I smelled the salt water and felt the coolness of the night through my polyester-padded leather jacket. The gusting east wind ruffled my hair. I stuck my hands into my jacket pockets, and reopened my eyes to gaze at the sky. It was possible to see the stars blaze as I never could over the city of Chicago. I’d rarely seen the moon so enormous and orange and close, near enough in the darkness to dare to touch. Only a few clouds from the predicted storm lay on the horizon and I thought I caught glimpses of far distant lightning.

I turned away from the sea toward the rest of the island. The gently rising land in front of me hid the few lights that might have escaped from the buildings. Scott was only about two hundred feet away. I had been told to give him an hour so I had taken my time strolling the east way around the island. I loved the cool wind and the lack of human noise. Waves and wind, spray and smell, everything draped in moonlight and surrounded by stars. That’s why we come here every year. Total quiet and relaxation.

I took the path down to the secluded cavern where Scott waited. Neither the anticipation nor the pleasure was lessened by the familiarity with which I approached the scene. Love, and warmth, and a hot man. Nothing wrong with that picture even after numerous viewings.

It was the day before New Year’s Eve. As a present for our wedding, I’d given him annual trips to Korkasi, an island in the Aegean Sea. Korkasi was the most exclusive and expensive gay resort in the world. We’d already been coming to this idyllic spot off and on for years before our marriage. It was one place where Scott would not be pestered by fans.

The guest list on Korkasi included some of the wealthiest gay men on the planet. Many of them were the kind who’d listened to too much opera as children, attended too many operas as an adult, and felt a need to tell you about those experiences. They funded more opera productions than you could shake a tenor at. Another common type is the rich sugar daddy trying to show off his latest boy-toy. At times these people overlapped each other, making us even more inclined to keep to ourselves.

Scott would have candlelight and blankets and pillows, and cheeses and exotic fruits and confections and some form of chocolate that I’d never had before. Scott would have taken the time to make it romantic and intimate and perfect. As I entered the cavern, I saw the glow of light around the bend. The wind abated considerably after the first few steps into the cave, and was but a puff of freshness after I turned the first corner.

Scott had lit a fire, a necessity. It was winter and the island was cool. The red, blue, and yellow of the quiet flames provided welcome warmth. Smoke curled out through a small hole high up in the far wall. The shield of loose rocks built around the fire had been heated by the flames. He had votive candles on rock-hewn shelves stretching above our heads. He sat cross-legged on a blanket in front of a mound of pillows. A simple feast was laid out between him and the fire. Since I was a kid, I’ve been afflicted with a sappy, romantic streak. Yeah, it was cheap sentiment, but I love cheap sentiment. And as a wise, old mentor once said to me, “Cheap sentiment? So what? Dickens made a career out of it.”

I snuggled up close to Scott. He draped an arm around me. “This is perfect,” I said. Then both his arms encircled me, and he nuzzled my ear. “I love you,” he murmured. “I love you, too,” I said. We kissed. Then we kissed a lot more. And for quite a while the fire was not necessary to keep us warm.

Some time later, wrapped in blankets, having stirred the fire and added scented wood to its fading embers, Scott reached behind the mound of pillows. “I have something for you.” For some reason we nearly always whispered when we were in the cavern. Neither of us wished to break the magic of the spell created by these moments of perfection.

Scott handed me a flat, burgundy box with gold lettering. It was tied with a silk, red ribbon, which fell away easily. The box said Kinder with other words in German that I could not translate. I opened it and took a bite of the chocolate inside. It was heavenly.

Eventually reality does intrude. The fire did die down. The damp and cold did seep in. I was pleasantly drowsy, but it would be good to get indoors.

Copyright © 2006 by Mark Richard Zubro