The Ghost Had an Early Checkout
Sequel to The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks
by Josh Lanyon
Genre: LGBT Mystery
To live and draw in L.A.
Now living in Los Angeles with former navy SEAL Nick Reno, artist Perry Foster comes to the rescue of elderly and eccentric Horace Daly, the legendary film star of such horror classics as Why Won't You Die, My Darling?
Horace owns the famous, but now run-down, Hollywood hotel Angels Rest, rumored to be haunted. But as far as Perry can tell, the scariest thing about Angels Rest is the cast of crazy tenants--one of whom seems determined to bring down the final curtain on Horace--and anyone else who gets in the way.
Amazon * Apple * Smashwords * Amazon Uk
A scream split the hot autumn afternoon.
Perry, precariously perched on the twisted limb of a dying oak tree, lost his balance, dropped his sketch pad, and nearly followed its fluttering descent into the tall, yellowing grass growing on the other side of the chain-link fence that was supposed to keep people like himself from trespassing on the grounds of the former Angel’s Rest hotel.
The voice was thin and hoarse, sexless. There was no sign of anyone, but the cries bounced off the chipped gargoyles, crumbling stairs, and broken fountains, echoed off the pointed towers and mansard rooftops of the eight-story building.
Recovering his balance, Perry scooted along the thick branch until he was safely over the barbed top of the fence, and then jumped down into the waist-high weeds and grass.
Heart pounding, Perry ran toward the voice—or at least where he guessed the voice was coming from. He still couldn’t see anyone.
This back section of the property had never been landscaped. Thirsty scrub oaks, bramble bushes, webs of potentially ankle-snapping weeds covered a couple of sunbaked acres.
When he reached the wall of towering, mostly dead hedges, he covered his mouth and nose with the crook of his arm and shoved his way through, trying not to inhale dust or pollen.
Small, sharp dried leaves whispered as they scratched his bare skin, crumbling against his clothes. He scraped through and found himself in the ruins of the actual hotel garden.
Which meant he was…where in relation to the voice?
Without his leafy vantage point, he had no clue. Rusted lanterns hung from withered tree branches. A couple of short stone staircases led nowhere. An ornate, but oxidized, iron patio chair was shoved into the hedge, and a little farther on, an overturned patio table lay on its back, four legs sticking straight up out of the tall weeds like a dead animal. A black and white checkered cement square was carpeted in broken branches and debris. A giant gameboard? More likely an outdoors dance floor.
Too bad there was no time to get some of this derelict grandeur down on paper…
Finally, he spotted an overgrown path leading through a pair of moribund Japanese cedars—so ossified they looked like wood carvings—and jogged on toward the hotel.
The voice had fallen silent.
Perry slowed to an uneasy stop, listening. His breathing was the loudest sound in the artificial glade. Should he go on? You couldn’t—shouldn’t—ignore a cry for help, but maybe the emergency was over?
Or maybe the emergency had gotten so much worse, whoever had been yelling was now unconscious.
Far overhead, the tops of the trees made a distant rustling sound, though there was no breeze down here in the petrified forest. He could see broken beer bottles along the path, cigarette butts, and something that appeared to be a used condom.
At last—well, it felt like at last, but it was probably no more than two or three minutes—he reached the bottom of the first of three wide, shallow flights of steps, which surely led to the back entrance of the hotel.
Aside from his own footfalls and raspy breathing, it was eerily silent.
He began to feel a little foolish.
Had he misunderstood those cries? Maybe he’d been fooled by the noise of a bunch of kids roughhousing. Maybe what he’d heard had been the rantings of a crazy homeless person. There was a lot of that in LA.
“Just do it,” Perry muttered, and started up the steps toward the hotel.
Halfway up the first flight, a scrape of sound—footsteps on pavement—reached him. Perry raised his head as three figures crested the top. He froze. His breath caught. His heart seemed to tumble through his chest as he stared in disbelief.
Three figures. They wore long black capes and skeleton masks. They carried swords.
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks
by Josh Lanyon
His romantic weekend in ruins, shy twenty-something artist Perry Foster learns that things can always get worse when he returns home from San Francisco to find a dead body in his bathtub. A dead body in a very ugly sportscoat -- and matching socks. The dead man is a stranger to Perry, but that's not much of a comfort; how did a strange dead man get in a locked flat at the isolated Alton Estate in the wilds of the "Northeast Kingdom" of Vermont? Perry turns to help from "tall, dark and hostile" former navy SEAL Nick Reno -- but is Reno all that he seems?
It was still not light when Perry woke. O’dark hundred, Nick would have said. The clock said five thirty.
For a few moments he lay there, blinking sleepily, trying to place himself in unfamiliar surroundings. He remembered that he was in Nick’s bed — without Nick, unfortunately.
And something had wakened him.
There it was again. Perry sat up. He wasn’t dreaming. He wasn’t imagining that faint scratching sound. Mice in the woodwork? It was only too likely. The only cat in the house was Jane’s, and according to Jane,
he’d never shown interest in anything that couldn’t be opened with a can opener.
There…not exactly a gnawing sound…but…something was moving behind the wall. Something larger than a mouse. Larger than a cat. Something big…
Perry bolted from the bed and made for the living room.
In the murky light he could make out the blankets and pillow neatly folded on the end of the couch. There was no sign of Nick.
Bewildered and still half-asleep, Perry tried to make sense of this. He recalled Nick going off to investigate on his own the night Perry had found the dead man in the bathtub. He began to search for his keys. They were gone.
Perry swore. What the hell was the deal with Nick anyway? Would it kill him to ask for help — or at least discuss his plans? For a practical guy, Reno wasn’t showing the best sense taking off without making sure he had some kind of backup.
That was probably because he didn’t think Perry was much use as backup, and maybe Perry wasn’t a Navy SEAL, but he knew enough to get help if Nick needed it.
And if Nick had been gone the entire night, there was a damn good chance he did need help.
He went back in the bedroom and dragged on his jeans and shirt, stepped into his sneakers, and exited Nick’s apartment, leaving the door unlocked just in case he didn’t have luck finding Nick.
He crossed the landing to his own tower rooms just in case Nick was over there, but the door to his apartment was locked — which was doubly annoying. He couldn’t get into his own rooms if he wanted to.
Perry went quietly downstairs to the second level. The smell of baking wafted from David Center’s rooms, filling the musty hall with warm blueberry fragrance.
Hearing something from the main hall, he looked over the balcony in time to see Miss Dembecki letting herself out the front door, furtive and noiseless. He considered going after her, but the need to find Nick and make sure he was okay was stronger.
He continued quietly down the hallway and studied the imposing crisscross of yellow crime scene tape across Watson’s door. Somehow he just knew Nick would not find that forbidding web as intimidating as he did.
He tried the handle.
The door swung open.
Perry parted the bands of yellow tape and stepped inside. It was hard to see in the gloom — the blinds drawn against the early morning — and it smelled of the unfamiliar chemicals the crime-scene technicians had used.
“Nick?” he called softly.
There was no answer. He supposed he had not really expected one. Glancing around, he froze at the sight of his open sketchbook — and the rough draft of Nick’s face. The deputies must have been looking through his stuff. Hopefully, Nick hadn’t seen that. He’d be more uncomfortable than he already was.
Perry made his way to the bedroom and snapped on the light, confident that with the blinds drawn no one would be able to tell he was inside the apartment. The closet door stood open.
Something was not right…
At first Perry thought the clothes pole had broken, but then he saw that this was an illusion of the crooked way the shadows fell from the compartment interior. The back wall seemed to be out of alignment.
Cautiously, one eye on the taped outline of where Tiny had died, he stepped inside the closet. Yes, the back wall of the closet was in fact a door. A pretty solid door at that. He felt the edge — four inches of thick and solid wood. Something was propping it open. His gaze fell on the shoe wedged between wall and door and his heart stopped.
Cheap brown leather with a hole in the sole. It was the shoe worn by the dead body in Perry’s bathtub.
His heart began to thud in a tattoo of delighted thrill and alarm.
Just as he had thought — well, suggested — there was a secret passage in the house.
Perry pushed against the back panel, taking care not to dislodge the shoe propping it open. Facing what appeared to be a wall of darkness, he paused. He needed a flashlight.
He’d seen one somewhere in Watson’s apartment…
Perry ducked back out of the clothes that still smelled of Watson’s tobacco and aftershave, and searched around until, on the far side of the bed, he finally located a heavy flashlight that looked like it meant business.
Steeling himself, he returned to the closet and pushed the opening wide. He jammed the shoe into place to hold the door wide, and switched on the flashlight.
Long cobwebs floated gently from open beams. Dust coated everything in gray velvet. In fact, he could see a swarm of dusty footprints leading off into the pitch black.
Great. Cold, damp, and dust. The asthma triumvirate. He pulled out his hanky and covered his mouth. He patted the inhaler in his pocket reassuringly. He was okay. He could do this.
Turning the flashlight down the long corridor, Perry began to follow the footsteps in the carpet of dust.
Josh Lanyon is the author of over sixty titles of classic Male/Male fiction featuring twisty mystery, kickass adventure and unapologetic man-on-man romance.
Her work has been translated into eleven languages. The FBI thriller Fair Game was the first Male/Male title to be published by Harlequin Mondadori, the largest romance publisher in Italy. Stranger on the Shore (Harper Collins Italia) was the first M/M title to be published in print. In 2016 Fatal Shadows placed #5 in Japan's annual Boy Love novel list (the first and only title by a foreign author to place). The Adrien English Series was awarded All Time Favorite Male/Male Series in the 2nd Annual contest held by the 20,000+ Goodreads M/M Group. Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist (twice for Gay Mystery), and the first ever recipient of the Goodreads M/M Hall of Fame award.
Josh is married and lives in Southern California.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!