Release Party – The Royal Street Heist by Scotty Cade Excerpt

November 11, 2014

fashion business man looking over shoulder to his sideHello there,

Beau and Tollison here again, stars of the latest Scotty Cade novel called “The Royal Street Heist.”

Its killing Beau, but I’m the man in charge for this post. I’m Tollison Eduardo Braga Cruz, by the way. And yes, I know Beau said it’s a mouthful, but hey, he’s one to talk right? Montgomery Beaumont Bissonet. Please…That name doesn’t just roll off the lips with great ease.

“Ouch Beau! Stop it Beau. I swear I need hazard pay working with this guy.”

Since Mr. Pouty lips went on and on about himself in the first post, I won’t bore you with as much detail about myself but I will give you a little history. “Damn it Beau. Punch me in the arm one more time and I’m gonna flatten you right here.” (Eyes glaring.)

So where were we? Oh yeah me. Okay so I’m the old guy in this partnership at thirty-seven years old. I stand about 6’1” and weigh in at one hundred and ninety iStock_000048950382Smallpounds. Unlike Beau, I work out on a regular basis trying to stay ahead of gravity, since well you know, I’m knocking on forty’s door. As you can probably tell by my name, I’m of Latin American decent, Portuguese to be exact and came to the United States when I was just a baby. I have black hair and brown eyes and what I like to call mocha colored skin. It’s like having a permanent suntan. Man do I look good in yellow. But I digress.

Anyway, I’m and insurance investigator for Lloyds of London and reside in Atlanta Georgia. But…I spend more time on the road trying to recover stolen property then I do at home. I too am an openly gay man with one or two relationships under my belt, which much like Beau’s didn’t end well. Some might say I have a bit of a sketchy past, but hey, we all have our past’s right? But also like Beau, I’ll let you read about my past in the book and you can make up your own mind.

“Shut up Beau.” He’s laughing at me right now and really starting to piss me off.

Anyway, so we promised you an excerpt and here it is. In the next posts Scotty will make an appearance to tell you a little about how he embarked on this book and what’s coming up next. Enjoy!

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“What do we have?” Lead Detective Montgomery Beaumont Bissonet asked, walking up to the bathroom door with his partner, Detective August Hebert, right behind him. Bissonet looked at his partner and frowned when he saw the investigating detective already at work on the crime scene.

Detective Bruce Jenkins offered him a weak smile. “Meet Anthony Le Moyne, Esquire,” Jenkins said. “A two-bit attorney. No. More like an ambulance chaser than an attorney.”

“Looks like he lost one too many cases,” Detective Hebert said.

“Any idea why this happened?” Bissonet asked.

“My guess is he walked in on another crime being committed here tonight.”

Bissonet gave Jenkins a questioning glance.

“Follow me,” Jenkins said as he led the two detectives down the stairs and into the main parlor. He walked up and stood in front of the empty wall where the two paintings had previously hung.

“A couple of hours ago, two original paintings from the Civil War era hung in this very spot. They were called General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville and The Little Solider.”

“Anyone checked Ulysses S. Grant’s house?” Hebert teased.

“How much were they worth?” Bissonet asked.

“Combined, a little under two million,” Jenkins replied.

Hebert raised an eyebrow.

“Yep,” Jenkins said. “The kid was worth about eight fifty and Lee about a million,” Jenkins explained. “The gallery owner acquired them about six months ago from the estate of Le Moyne’s late mother. He apparently got them for a steal, and Le Moyne wasn’t happy about that. He showed up intoxicated at the gallery a few days ago during the opening, caused a scene, and even threatened the gallery owner.”

Bissonet looked around. “It appears this place has motion detectors. Did the alarm sound?”

“Yes,” Jenkins said. “But only motion detectors. No exterior sensors were disturbed.”

“How did the thief get in?” Hebert asked.

“There was a gala fundraiser event here earlier this evening. The thief could have been a guest who snuck upstairs and hid until the event was over.”

“And how did he get out with the paintings?” Bissonet asked.

“We think through a rooftop deck and the fire escape of the adjoining building.”

“And the alarm didn’t sound?” Bissonet asked.

“Apparently the first floor is the only area secured by the alarm system,” Jenkins explained.

“That’s odd,” Hebert said.

“Not according to the owners,” Jenkins explained. “The owner said there is only one way to the second and third floors, and that’s the route up the main stairs you used earlier.”

Detective Bissonet looked back over his shoulder in the direction of the stairwell. “Apparently they were wrong.”

“Apparently,” Hebert agreed.

“I’d like to talk to the owner,” Bissonet said.

“He’s upstairs in his office with his wife, daughter, and son-in-law. They all seem to be in shock, so you might want to take it easy on them.”

Bissonet looked Jenkins directly in the eye. “Don’t tell me how to do my job, Bruce.”

“Come on, Beau,” Jenkins said. “Have things deteriorated so badly between us we can’t even work together?”

“Oh, I don’t know, Bruce,” Bissonet said wryly. “Why don’t you ask the teenager you cheated on me with?”

Jenkins cringed and Bissonet smiled.

“He wasn’t a teenager and you know it, Beau,” Bruce said. “And maybe if you would have spent a little more time at home, I wouldn’t have turned to someone else.”

“Fuck it, Bruce. We’ve been over this a million times,” Bissonet said. “I’m tired of beating a dead horse. Now tell me where the owner is again?”

“Upstairs in his office with his family,” Bruce said in a defeated tone.

Bissonet turned and headed for the stairs with Hebert by his side. “Sorry you had to witness that, Auggie,” Beau said. “I still can’t stand to look at the guy.”

“I get it, man,” Hebert said. “If my wife cheated on me, I’d be in prison for murder.”

“Yeah, but I’ve gotta get over it. I still have to work with him.”

Auggie raised a hand to Beau’s shoulder. “Just give it a little more time, man.”

Bissonet approached the door to Crymes’s office. In shock seems to be an understatement, he thought, glancing at Hebert. The two women were crying openly, and the older woman was also trembling and white as a sheet. The men were doing their best to console the women, but they didn’t appear to be succeeding.

Bissonet knocked lightly. “Excuse me,” he said. “I’m sorry to intrude, but I have some questions.”

“Can this wait?” one of the men said.

Bissonet shook his head. “I’m sorry, it really can’t. Which one of you is Mr. Villerie?”

“I’m Crymes Villerie,” the older gentleman said.

“I’m Lead Detective Bissonet, and this is my partner, Detective Hebert.”

Mr. Villerie nodded. “This is my wife, Charmaine Villerie, my daughter, Harper Villerie Hayes, and her husband, Jamison Hayes.” He paused and then asked, “Detectives? What in the hell happened in there?”

“For starters,” Bissonet said, “we think the victim interrupted a robbery in progress.”

Crymes put his hands on his hips. “So let me get this straight. You think Le Moyne was attempting to steal my paintings, but someone beat him to it and then killed him?”

“That’s what the evidence is showing so far,” Hebert said.

“But who?” Harper asked. “After the way Le Moyne acted when he was here, I would have bet my life if anyone attempted to steal the paintings, it would have been him.”

Bissonet made a few notes and then looked up. “You would have probably been right if he’d been a couple of hours earlier.”

“I understand he came into your gallery and threatened you?” Hebert asked.

“That’s right,” Harper said. “He threatened my father on opening night.”

Bissonet looked at his partner. “Mr. Villerie. Can you tell me the circumstances surrounding your interactions with Mr. Le Moyne?”

The detectives listened as Crymes explained how he’d received the anonymous call, how he’d come to purchase the paintings, and Mr. Le Moyne’s actions and threats when he came to the gallery. “I purchased those paintings fair and square from an estate manager,” he said. “I made the man an offer and he accepted. At the time I had not confirmed the origin of the paintings, nor had I determined if they were even originals or just very good reproductions.”

“Of course, we’ll need the name of that estate manager,” Bissonet said.

“And I assume by the price they were indeed both originals?” Hebert asked.

Crymes nodded.

“Do any of you have an idea who might have stolen the paintings? Enemies? Competitors? Etcetera?”

They all seemed to be contemplating the question. “I’m afraid not,” Crymes said. “But they were worth a lot of money. It could have been anyone.”

Bissonet looked at Harper. “No. Not that I can think of,” she replied.

Charmaine and Jamie both shook their heads.

“What about a gun? Do you have a gun on-site?”

Crymes opened his desk drawer and froze. “It’s gone,” he said. “I always keep my .45 right here in case of an emergency. This is the French Quarter, after all.”

Beau nodded and looked at Hebert. “Get CSI in here to check for prints.”

“One last question,” Bissonet said. “Detective Jenkins tells me there was no security system on the second and third floors. Is that correct?”

“Yes,” Harper said. “All of the artwork is kept in our vault or downstairs on display. Our offices are up here, as well as a guest suite we use for customers who come into town to preview artwork.”

“It appears the thief exited through a rooftop deck with the paintings in hand,” Hebert informed them. “And… escaped by hopping onto the adjoining building and down the fire escape. I don’t think your building is as secure as you thought.”

“Evidently,” Crymes said.

“Before you leave,” Bissonet said. “I’ll need all of you to give statements to Detective Jenkins about the night Mr. Le Moyne came to the gallery.”

“And… we’ll need a list of everyone who attended the gala this evening,” Hebert added.

“I’ll send Detective Jenkins right up. And thank you for your time. I’ll be in touch.”

Bissonet and Hebert turned to leave, but Bissonet stopped. “Oh, and I almost forgot. Are the paintings insured?”

“Yes,” Harper said. “By Lloyd’s of London.”

“And for how much?”

“Two point two million,” Harper replied.

“I see,” Bissonet said. “Has the insurer been notified?”

“As a matter of fact, they have,” Harper said. “As soon as I arrived, I reported the stolen paintings.”

“Good,” Bissonet said. “Is it common to insure artwork for more than the retail value?”

“Detective,” Harper explained, “with paintings as rare as these are, the value can increase on a daily basis, and also because of the value, they may not sell overnight. We just want to make sure we’re protected. And besides….”

Beau listened as Mrs. Hayes explained the very small rate difference between the actual value and the policy amount and her rationale for overinsuring.

“Thank you very much for your time. Detective Jenkins will be up shortly.”

Beau and Auggie walked down the stairs and into the parlor. Auggie found Jenkins and told him the owners were ready to give their statements, and Bissonet paced back and forth in the gallery in front of the blank wall.

“What gives, Beau?” Auggie asked.

“I don’t know, but I’ve got a stinking suspicion something is not adding up here.”

“Let’s go over it,” Auggie said. “The owner gets a mysterious call and buys two paintings from an estate for a couple of hundred grand, and the paintings turn out to be originals worth a couple million dollars. The owner has them restored or conserved, whatever they call it, hangs them in his gallery, and attempts to sell them at the appraised value.”

Bissonet took over. “And somehow the heir to the estate finds out they were originals, is majorly pissed off, and shows up drunk, threatens the owners, and promises revenge.”

“Meanwhile,” Hebert added, “the owners overinsure the paintings by a couple hundred grand, and three days later they are stolen and someone is dead.”

“Stolen just after a gala where someone sneaks upstairs,” Bissonet said, “hides until the gallery is closed, and then steals both paintings. Gets surprised by the heir to the estate, also intending to steal the paintings, but instead, the original thief kills the heir and escapes through a rooftop deck and down a fire escape with the paintings.”

“But…,” Hebert said. “There wasn’t enough time after the alarm sounded for the thief to kill Le Moyne, drag him into the bathroom, and still get the paintings out before we show up.”

“Which means,” Bissonet explained, “the thief must have killed Le Moyne before he came downstairs and set off the motion detectors.”

“Exactly,” Hebert said.

“None of that is likely! This was an invitation-only gala, and all guests were business associates or personal friends of the board of directors for the charity,” a strange voice said.

Bissonet turned to see an extremely handsome, tall, dark-haired man snapping a rubber glove onto his right hand. Damn, he’s hot was Beau’s first thought. Wait! Who in the fuck does this guy think he is?

“Excuse me?” Beau said.

“Odds are the thief came in through the french doors leading to the rooftop deck.”

“I’m sorry?” Bissonet asked. “Who in the hell are you?”

“I’m Tollison Cruz. I’m the insurance investigator for Lloyd’s of London, the gallery’s insurance company.”

Beau frowned. “So just for shits and giggles, if he got in through the rooftop, how did he get out?”

“Either through the courtyard or the same way he came in,” Cruz said.

“But none of the exterior sensors were disturbed,” Hebert objected.

“As I understand it,” Cruz explained, examining the display wall and running his fingers along the wall’s edge, “the security alarm was set off by the motion detectors, and that’s what the security system reported. The courtyard door could have been disabled after the alarm was already sounding, at which point the security company would have already done their job by calling the account contact and/or the police.”

“That’s all well and good, but what about proof?” Bissonet asked.

Cruz stopped and pulled off his rubber glove. “I don’t need proof to know I’m right. It’s my job. And if you like, I can help you with yours.”

“How so?” Bissonet asked.

“I get a twenty percent finder’s fee for recovering stolen objects in addition to my already exorbitant salary. I want that money, and you want your murderer. We have common goals. I could consult on your case and share my insight and years of experience.”

“Sounds like a great idea,” Hebert said. “We can always use—”

“No,” Bissonet said. “That won’t be necessary.”

“Can’t blame a guy for trying,” Cruz said, looking Bissonet up and down and smiling. “Good to meet you, detectives,” Cruz said over his shoulder, walking up the stairs.

Bissonet wiped the drool at the corner of his mouth as he watched Cruz take the stairs two at a time, the muscles in his ass flexing with every step and his round cheeks filling every millimeter of his black wool slacks. He shook his head. It’s been way too long. I need to get laid.

“What gives?” Auggie asked. “We could have used him.”

Beau waved his hand through the air. “He’d just get in the way.”

“Really?” Auggie asked. “And what if he’s onto something?”

Beau rolled his eyes when he saw Bruce coming down the stairs.

“Jenkins!” he yelled.

“What?”

“Check the courtyard door and see if the security sensor has been tampered with, and also see if there’s an escape route from the courtyard to the alley and beyond,” Bissonet instructed. “I know this guy wasn’t brazen enough to carry two stolen paintings down Chartres Street at three thirty in the morning.”

Auggie smiled at him. “Now, was that so hard?”

Bissonet smirked and looked at Auggie. “Are you coming with me, or are you gonna stay here and investigate with Mr. Cruz?”

 

 

Back at the precinct, Auggie was on the phone getting more details from Jenkins while Beau talked through the case again out loud.

“So,” Beau said, “Le Moyne breaks into the gallery and attempts to steal the paintings he feels were stolen from him. But… he interrupts someone who beat him to it, either on the way down to steal the paintings or on the way up with the paintings in his hand. More than likely, from the location of Le Moyne’s body, on the way down. Then he brings the paintings back up two flights of stairs and then carries them down the fire escape of the adjoining building.”

“Except, as it turns out, that’s not how it happened,” Hebert said, hanging up the phone. “It appears the courtyard door sensor was tampered with, just like Cruz said.” Auggie smiled.

“A very lucky guess,” Beau mumbled, looking shocked.

“It appears the two screws securing the top sensor to the doorjamb were unscrewed, and the sensor was simply placed on top of the sensor on the door. That way when the door opened and closed, the connection wasn’t broken, and the security company didn’t see any exterior entrances breached. And… that’s how the thief exited the building.”

“And what about his escape?” Beau asked.

“There is a straight shot through the courtyard, down the alley, and onto Chartres Street, where Jenkins found tire marks, quite possibly when the getaway car burned rubber when they left.”

“Damn,” Beau hissed. “I want all the neighbors interviewed to see if they saw or heard anything, and see if you get your hands on any surveillance camera footage.”

“Jenkins is already on it,” Auggie said.

“Bissonet?” Captain Trenchard yelled. “In my office. Now.”

“Yes, sir,” Beau said, jumping to his feet and rolling his eyes at Auggie.

Beau crossed the precinct, stepped into the captain’s office, and almost spit when he saw Tollison Cruz sipping on a cup of coffee.

“Detective. I believe you’ve already met Tollison Cruz,” the captain said.

“Hiya,” Cruz said with a nod and a coy smile, his leg casually crossed at the knee.

“What the f—” Beau mumbled. “What are you doing here?”

Captain Trenchard interjected. “I received a call from the mayor earlier, and apparently this has turned into a very high-profile case. Mr. Villerie is a personal friend of the mayor’s, and he wants this crime solved as soon as possible. And… by using every available asset,” the captain explained. “To that end, Mr. Cruz has presented me with a very compelling proposal.”

“Yeah,” Beau said. “I’ve already heard one proposal, so I can’t wait to hear this one.”

Cruz smirked.

“Well, I like what I heard,” the captain said.

“Captain Trenchard, Please tell me you’re not putting him on this—”

The captain cut Beau off. “He has expertise that can help us solve this case. I’m putting him on as a consultant.”

“Sir,” Beau said. “With all due respect, I prefer working with my team.”

“I believe Mr. Cruz will be an asset to this case.”

“But—”

The captain held up a finger. “This is no longer up for discussion.”

Beau cursed under his breath, but smiled and nodded.

“I look forward to working with you,” Cruz said wryly, offering his hand.

Beau hesitated, then accepted. The big, tanned hand was warm, and Cruz’s grip was extremely strong. Beau cursed himself for where his thoughts went from there.

He turned and walked out of the captain’s office with Cruz on his heels.

“I’ll give you this,” Beau said when they were out of earshot of the captain. “You’ve got some gigantic balls.”

“Thank you,” Cruz said with a raised eyebrow. “I didn’t think you’d noticed. But let’s save the bedroom talk for later. Over a drink, maybe?”

Beau ignored the comment and poured himself a cup of coffee, not offering Cruz one.

“My theories about the thief?” Cruz asked. “Was I right?”

Beau took a sip of his coffee and smirked without answering.

“I do my job very well, Detective Bissonet,” Cruz said. “This is the quickest way for both of us to get what we want. Think of it as a merger of sorts.”

“More like a hostile takeover,” Beau grumbled. “I’ll have Detective Hebert bring you up to speed.”

 

 

“And that’s about where we are,” Detective Hebert told Cruz while Beau looked on with a scowl covering his face.

“So what’s our next move?” Cruz asked.

Bissonet stepped up. “The Major Case squad sent in a list of collectors who might be interested in Civil War history, and so we are looking into that now to see if anyone has tried to contact them regarding the paintings.”

“These paintings are too hot to handle now that’s there’s a dead body on them,” Cruz said. “The thief knows that and won’t do business with anyone on your list for fear of being discovered.”

“Okaaay?” Beau asked. “Do you have a better idea?”

“From my standpoint,” Cruz said. “I’m only interested in recovering the missing paintings, so my plan is to start with the gallery owner and his family.”

“Insurance fraud?” Hebert asked.

Cruz nodded. “Accounts for about fifty percent of my investigations.”

“What about the estate manager?” Hebert asked. “Something doesn’t seem right to me there. And Villerie’s wife? She seemed overly upset over the death of someone she’d only seen once and who, while in an intoxicated state, embarrassed her husband.”

“I didn’t see the wife, but I agree with your summation of the estate manager,” Cruz said. “If this guy even suspected he had originals, he wouldn’t have let them go for such a small amount of money. And normally these estate companies do their homework.”

Beau sipped his coffee and listened. Now Auggie was conversing with Cruz like he was one of the team, and Beau was getting more and more pissed by the minute.

Before he could put a stop to it, Jenkins walked up with a folder. “Yo! Guys. I think I found something.”

Beau watched as Bruce stopped and did a double take when he saw the tall, dark, and handsome stranger sitting on the corner of Beau’s desk.

“Bruce, meet Tollison Cruz,” Auggie said. “He’s working with us on this case.”

Bruce nodded and smiled.

Beau gave Auggie a nasty look and then looked up at Jenkins. “Let’s hear it.”

“It appears our Mr. Crymes Villerie is in debt up to his eyeballs. The bank has already started foreclosure proceedings on his home, gallery, and vacation property in Charleston, South Carolina, and he’s sinking fast.”

“Bingo,” Cruz said. “If I’m lucky, I might be able to wrap up my end of this case by dinnertime.”

“You mean if I’m lucky,” Beau said under his breath.

Cruz looked down at Beau and smiled. “Am I that hard on the eyes?”

Cocky fucker! Beau stood, ignoring the question. “Let’s go and pay Mr. Villerie a visit.”

“Wait,” Bruce said. “That’s not all.”

Bruce shuffled folders and opened a second one. “It also appears that Jamison Hayes, Mr. Villerie’s son-in-law, has quite a gambling problem. Horses, to be exact, and he’s in deep to a couple of very ruthless bookies.”

“Well, well,” Beau said. “In a matter of a few minutes, we now have a person of interest and two suspects.”

“And I’m still working on their phone records,” Jenkins added. “Should have those by late this afternoon.”


Chapter Four

Crymes was seated at his desk in the gallery, still in a daze. He and Charmaine hadn’t slept a wink when they’d finally made it back home, and she’d been an absolute wreck, hysterical almost. He’d done his best to try and comfort her, but Harper finally managed to slip a Xanax in her tea, and that had settled her down a good bit before he and Harper left the house.

His phone buzzed, startling him out of his thoughts. “Yes, Harper,” he said into the receiver.

“Detectives Bissonet and Hebert are here to see you.”

“I’ll be right down,” Crymes said.

Crymes walked down the stairs and saw Harper talking to a stranger while Bissonet and Hebert were standing off to the side.

“Detective Bissonet,” Crymes said as he stepped off the landing. “Please tell me you’ve found my paintings.”

“I wish I could,” Bissonet said. “But we do have a few questions. May we speak in private?”

Before Crymes could respond, Harper walked up. “Crymes, this is Tollison Cruz. He’s the insurance investigator Lloyd’s of London sent over.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Cruz,” Crymes said, shaking the man’s hand.

“I’ll be working with Detectives Bissonet and Hebert to try and recover your paintings,” Cruz explained. “Is there some place private we can talk?”

Bissonet rolled his eyes. “I’ve already asked that question, Mr. Cruz.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Cruz replied.

“Yes,” Crymes said. “Let’s go up to my office.”

Crymes led the way with Hebert, Cruz, and Bissonet pulling up the rear.

The three men took seats on the couch in Crymes’s office while he sat on the corner of his desk.

“I’ll get right to the point, Mr. Villerie,” Bissonet said. “It has come to our attention that you are in quite a bit of debt and the bank is foreclosing on this very property, as well as your home and vacation home. Is that correct?”

Crymes felt his knees weaken. He gripped the ends of his desk for support, sighed, and dropped his head. “I’m afraid so.”

“Mr. Villerie,” Cruz said. “I’m sure you can imagine how this looks to me and my insurance company. It reeks of insurance fraud.”

Crymes thought about what Cruz was saying. It had never occurred to him before now he might be a suspect. He stood. “You aren’t actually insinuating I may have been the one to steal my own paintings?”

“It’s a definite possibility,” Cruz said. “You would be the one who stands to profit the most from the insurance settlement, as well as the sale of the paintings.”

Crymes straightened his shoulders and tried to stand as tall as possible. “Well, gentlemen, I can assure you your suspicions couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said adamantly. “I was here at the gallery until the fundraiser was over. I then took my wife home and went to bed. You can check my phone records and anything else you want. I assure you I did not arrange for those paintings to be stolen.”

“What about your daughter?” Detective Hebert asked.

Crymes felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand at attention. “I can also assure you Harper had nothing to do with this crime either.”

“How can you be so sure?” Bissonet asked. “The way I see it, if you lose the gallery, she loses her job and her legacy.”

“First of all,” Crymes pointed out, “she has no idea we are about to lose the gallery, and secondly, I know my daughter, and she would never get involved in anything illegal. Foreclosure or no foreclosure.”

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Cruz said.

“Mr. Villerie?” Bissonet asked. “What about your son-in-law?”

“Jamison?” Crymes asked. “Out of the question. He’s a fine young man from an upstanding New Orleans family, and he’s about to make partner in his father’s law firm. He wouldn’t chance being disbarred and embarrassing his family for something so ridiculous.”

“He stands to lose as much as your daughter does,” Cruz pointed out.

“Yes, gentlemen,” Crymes argued. “That might all make sense if I thought either of them knew about the foreclosures. But they had no way of knowing. I… I was just notified myself a few days ago. I picked up the foreclosure papers from the bank personally to avoid being served here at the gallery so I could tell them when I found the right time.”

“Are you aware your son-in-law likes the ponies?” Hebert asked.

“I’m aware he goes to the track occasionally,” Crymes said. “Hell! I’ve even gone with him a few times.”

“And what about his bookies?” Hebert asked. “Our sources tell us he’s in pretty deep.”

Bookies? “What bookies?” Crymes asked, unable to hide the shock in his voice.

“Mr. Hayes is very heavily indebted to two well-known and fairly ruthless bookies.”

Crymes felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room, and he could no longer breathe. His throat was closing up, and his vision was fading in and out. He felt his way around the edge of his desk and collapsed in his chair, unable to support his own weight. He rubbed at his eyes and covered his face with his hands. “I had no idea,” he forced out when he could finally speak. “I had no idea.”

“Just so you’ll know,” Bissonet said. “We’ll be looking closely at your daughter and son-in-law, as well as your wife, as we proceed with our investigation.”

“Charmaine?” Crymes asked, feeling weaker by the minute. “But she knows nothing about the foreclosures either.”

“That may very well be,” Hebert said. “But we’re not as convinced about all this as you are.”

“Thank you for your time, Mr. Villerie,” Bissonet said. “We’ll be in touch.”

Crymes nodded and leaned forward in an attempt to stand.

Hebert held his hand up. “Please don’t get up. We’ll show ourselves out.”

Mentally and physically exhausted, Crymes leaned back and closed his eyes. Harper, Jamie, and now Charmaine. What is going on around here?

 

 

Bissonet gestured for Hebert and Cruz to go ahead of him, and he watched Cruz’s broad, muscular shoulders and tight little ass as the man walked down the stairs in front of him. The guy was a pain, all right, but he was a good-looking pain just the same! If Beau had to guess a nationality, he would go with Latin American. Cruz’s mocha-colored skin, rich brown eyes, and jet black hair were dead giveaways. Combine that with the slightest bit of an accent, and he figured Cruz was from Brazil or maybe Portugal.

When they got to the bottom of the stairs, Cruz looked over his shoulder, smiled, and winked at Beau, which pissed him off immensely. “Fucker!” he said under his breath as he passed him by.

“Now, now, Beau,” Cruz said wryly. “No need for obscenities.”

Beau smirked and stepped out onto Royal Street, letting the door shut behind him. The heat and humidity hit him like a ton of bricks, and he crossed the street to get out of the direct sunlight. Cruz and Hebert caught up to him just as his cell phone rang. Beau looked at his phone and frowned when a picture of Jenkins’s smiling face filled his screen.

Beau flashed back to the day he’d taken that picture—on the balcony at the Bourbon Pub during Mardi Gras a little over four years ago. It had been his and Bruce’s second anniversary, and his heart hurt a little, seeing the twinkle in Bruce’s eyes and remembering how happy they were then.

They’d broken up a year and a half ago, and he was still so angry at Bruce for cheating on him and fucking it all up that he had a hard time dealing with him. He’d had to maintain a certain amount of professionalism because they still had to work together, but he’d be damned if he was going to forgive and forget and make the whole thing easy on Bruce.

Both of them had been uniformed officers when they’d met, and after their shifts they’d had lots of time to spend together, in and out of bed. But everything had changed when Beau was offered a detective position. Their time together started to lessen, and after a year, when Beau had been promoted to lead detective, everything started to fall apart.

His caseload had been extremely heavy, and Beau had been working eighteen-hour days. In Beau’s mind, though, he’d been trying to prove himself and secure his job to ultimately make a better life for the both of them, but Bruce hadn’t exactly seen it that way.

In an attempt to save his relationship, Beau had called in a favor, unbeknownst to Bruce, and Bruce had been offered a detective position. Not that Bruce needed his help. He was a damned good detective and would have been promoted eventually, but their relationship wouldn’t have made it until then. Things started to get better, and Beau thought they were going to make it until he found out about the affair.

Once Bruce fessed up, there was no way Beau could go back. He couldn’t be with a man he couldn’t trust, and everything had ended right then and there. Beau knew he shared some of the blame by neglecting Bruce, but it was his job, and if the shoe had been on the other foot, he would have never cheated. Auggie and his wife, Jenny, had been his saving graces; they had been his shoulders to lean on and had literally coaxed him back to the land of the living.

So here they were. A year and a half later, they were still working together because of a promotion Beau had arranged, and both of them were miserable doing it.

The phone rang again, startling Beau out of his thoughts, and he accepted the call. “Bissonet.”

“Beau, it’s Bruce.”

“I’m listening,” Beau said with no emotion in his voice.

Beau heard Bruce sigh and momentarily felt sorry for the guy, but it didn’t take him long to recover. “Talk?” he said.

“I got the phone records back for Harper Hayes, Jamison Hayes, Crymes Villerie, and Charmaine Villerie,” Bruce explained.

“And?”

“Besides the bookies,” Bruce said, “Jamison’s phone records are clean, and so are Mr. Villerie’s and Harper Hayes’s.”

“And Charmaine Villerie?” Beau asked.

Bruce cleared his throat. “That’s a very different story.”

“I’m still listening.”

“Her phone records show that the day after the paintings were first displayed at the opening, and in the days leading up to the robbery, Mrs. Villerie placed a half-dozen or so calls to a number we traced back through our database to a convicted felon named Emanuel Della Penna, who served time for that heist at the New Orleans Museum of Art ten years ago. He got five years, did his time, and up until now, he hasn’t resurfaced.”

Beau smiled and wiped his forehead with his coat sleeve. “I think it’s time we pay Mrs. Villerie a visit. And bring Della Penna in for questioning. We’ll be there as soon as we can. Is that it?” Bissonet asked.

“For now,” Bruce said, disconnecting the call.

Beau looked at his phone just as Bruce’s smiling face disappeared and the call was ended. “Cheater.”

“Are you always that rude to your coworkers?” Cruz asked.

“Stay out of it,” Bissonet said.

Hebert gave Cruz a sympathetic look. “Long story.”

Beau glared at Auggie as he shared the information about the phone records with him and Cruz. They got in Beau’s car and headed to Esplanade Avenue.

Bissonet parked on the street and walked up to the house. He leaned on the intercom at the gate until an unsteady voice finally answered. “Yes?”

“This is Detective Bissonet with the NOPD,” Beau said. “I’d like a few words with Mrs. Villerie, please.”

“This is not a good time,” the voice said.

Bissonet sighed. “I apologize for the intrusion, ma’am, but I must insist.”

There was silence for a few seconds. “Fine, then,” the voice said rather curtly. They all grabbed their ears when a screeching sound escaped the intercom speaker and the gate started to open. “I’ll meet you at the front door.”

When they walked up the steps to the porch, the door opened, and an exhausted-looking Charmaine Villerie appeared in the doorway.

“How may I help you, Detective?”

“I have a few questions for you Mrs. Villerie,” Beau said. “May we come in?”

Charmaine stepped back and opened the door farther, inviting them in.

“This is Detective Hebert and Tollison Cruz,” Beau said, gesturing between the two men. “Mr. Cruz is the insurance investigator sent over by Lloyd’s of London.”

Charmaine nodded. “Can we get this over with, gentlemen? I’m a bit under the weather today.”

“I can only imagine,” Bissonet said. “I’m sure it is quite a shock to have your husband’s paintings stolen and someone murdered in your gallery all in the same night.”

“Indeed,” Mrs. Villerie agreed.

“I’ll get right down to it, Mrs. Villerie,” Hebert said. “What was your relationship with Mr. Emanuel Della Penna?”

Beau watched the blood drain out of Mrs. Villerie’s face, and she became ghostly white. Her head rolled to the side, she stumbled back, and Cruz caught her right before she hit the ground.

 

 

 

 

5 Responses to “Release Party – The Royal Street Heist by Scotty Cade Excerpt”

  1. H.B. says:

    Oh, that is a mouthful. They seem like really amusing characters and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them. Thank you for the excerpt.

  2. ScottyCade says:

    My Pleasure HB. Stay tuned in the next couple of hours and you’ll get a chance to win your very own copy!

  3. Debra E says:

    These two sound like a lot of fun. Congratulations on the release. :)

  4. Jen CW says:

    Congrats on the the release! That was a fabulous excerpt, thank you for sharing it. I am definitely adding this book to my TBR.

  5. Sula says:

    Wow, what an exciting and long extract for us to enjoy and get so much of the background story in one swoop, thank you :) I imagine at some point he is going to forgive Bruce, so he/they can both move on?

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