Danny Avers is a teacher in small town Colorado. Back in the day, before high-speed Internet, social media, smartphones, or streaming anything, Danny’s just trying to live down his wild teenage years and carry on the only way he knows how: one day at a time. The last person he expects to see back in town is Harlan Quinn, his old best friend and former consummate bad boy. And when he finds out Quinn is the new sheriff and his new neighbor, it’s even more of a shock.
Quinn knows there’s more to his old hometown than meets the eye. There’s more to Danny than old memories and quiet living too. But as in the past, stirring things up is Quinn’s specialty, and he sets out to do that, in more ways than one, pushing Danny to admit there’s more to life and that their old town just might manage to be new again. That’s if old town thinking doesn’t get them both killed.
First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2006.
Second Edition published by Torquere Press, 2007.
- 3 Read lists
THE RENTAL agent was his fifth grade teacher’s cousin. She didn’t remember him, and Harlan Quinn was grateful for small favors. He’d endured enough wide-eyed amazement, turned-up noses, and slanted looks to last him a lifetime.
The house sat on a small cul-de-sac that hadn’t been there when Quinn left Hotchkiss, Colorado, and it looked clean and quiet and just the ticket to keep him away from most of the folks who were related to him. That was good enough for him. He turned to face the frosted-haired lady. What was her name? Miz Harris.
“I’ll take it.”READ MORE
“Oh, but don’t you want to see the backyard or the—”
“I’ll take it,” he cut her off. “Can we go sign the papers?”
“Oh, well, yes. Back at the office.” She flushed and pursed her mouth all up, and Quinn almost laughed. She was pissy at him for not playing by the polite rules, and she looked like her cousin the teacher, who used to get the same look when she caught him in the bathroom smoking a cigarette.
He motioned for her to precede him, and they went out, Miz Harris simply shutting the door behind her. Quinn shook his head and carefully made sure it was locked. The world wasn’t that fucking safe anymore.
They’d just gotten out to the curb when a car pulled into the drive of the house across the street, and Miz Harris clapped her hands. “Oh, excellent. You can come meet one of your neighbors.”
She stood on tiptoe, waving wildly as a man got out of the car. “Oh, Danny! Danny! Wait for us. I want you to meet your new neighbor.”
“Yes, ma’am.” She got a nod, and the man moved to open his trunk, so Quinn only caught a glimpse of thin legs in jeans, ball cap pulled down to shade the man’s face.
Quinn rolled his eyes, figuring this was his punishment for being in a hurry, but he waited as patiently as he could, shifting from foot to foot.
Miz Harris drew the guy over, his hands full of grocery bags. “Danny, this is our new sheriff and your new neighbor. Sheriff Quinn, this is one of our middle school teachers, Danny Avers.”
The eyes behind the wire-framed glasses went wide, searching his face. “I…. Good afternoon, Sheriff. Welcome to the neighborhood.”
Like a kick in the gut, it took him back some eighteen years to his senior year in high school. That face had barely changed at all, was a little thinner with a few more lines. He didn’t want to do this in front of Miz Harris, though. Not one bit. So he simply held out his hand. “Pleased, Mr. Avers.”
Dan juggled the bags for a second before taking his hand. Dan’s hand was smooth, warm, the shake firm.
Quinn felt his own hand start to sweat and pulled back as casually as he could, then wiped it on his jeans, where they wouldn’t see. “I’ll look forward to seeing you around. Miz Harris, if you don’t mind, I need to get back to the office, ASAP.”
Dan nodded, already turned away, moving toward a little, plain, neat house.
His gait was a little off, a little odd, and Miz Harris nodded toward Dan as he disappeared. “He’s a dear, sweet man. Was in a wicked-evil car wreck oh… sixteen-seventeen years ago. He was the only one of a bunch of kids that made it, though. Careflighted him into Grand Junction, and six years later? He’s applying to teach at the school and taking care of his sick daddy.”
Well, there you go. That summed up a life in a hundred words or less. Only, if you knew Dan, you knew that surviving your friends in an accident and your dad getting sick would both be devastating events. Crushing. Quinn watched him go, then resolutely turned to the car to head back and sign papers so he could get to doing his job. Dan wasn’t his business anymore. The sheriff’s department was, and it was time he got down to it.COLLAPSE