Friday, 10 February 2012

Welcome to Lisa Worrall: Laurel Heights

This is my all-time favourite book of Lisa's.


A shot rings out in the dead of night and leaves two residents dead in the exclusive, gay gated housing community of Laurel Heights, an apparent murder/suicide, but not everyone is convinced.

Detectives Scott Turner and Will Harrison are sent undercover to dig beneath the surface and discover answers. There’s only one problem: Scott and Will are not out of the closet at work. Now they are two gay men, pretending to be straight, who must pretend to be gay in order to stop a murderer.

Will the two closeted officers be able to hide their attraction while believing the other is straight? And is the killer living among them waiting to claim his next victim?


Two hours later, their Captain barked a command from the open doorway of his office. "Cassidy, Bates, bring your girlfriends in here!" Slamming the door behind him, he returned to his desk and handed a box of tissues to one of the other two men in the room. "Are you sure you don't want something to drink?" Glenn Hall asked for the third time since they'd arrived. He sighed as his cousin shook his head, for the third time. "You look like shit, Damon," he said quietly.

Glenn had been the Captain of the White Plains Homicide Team for six years and not once, in all those years had he had a member of his own family involved, albeit very loosely, in a murder. His grey eyes narrowed as he watched Damon blow his nose again, and dab at the tears rolling down his cheeks. Glenn had appointed himself Damon's surrogate brother while they were growing up and they were very close. He ran a hand through his salt and pepper hair and looked up at the knock on the door. "/Come!"/ he yelled and watched his four best file into the room. "Sit," he instructed, waiting until the two women had taken seats and the two men were standing behind their respective partners.

"Damon, Cal, this is Turner, Harrison, Cassidy, and Bates. People, this is my cousin, Damon Hall and his partner, Cal Perry," he began by way of introduction and waved his hand at the two men.

"You remember the murder/suicide over at Laurel Heights a month ago?" Glenn leaned back in his chair and folded his hands across his stomach as he stared at his detectives. "Damon and Cal live in Laurel Heights, and they were friends of Jon and Cory, the accused and the victim. I know it looked pretty much open and shut, but Damon and Cal aren't so sure and, now, neither am I." Turning to his cousin, he smiled softly, uncaring if his affection for the other man was clear to anyone else in the room. "Damon, you wanna take it from here?"

* * * *

Scott leaned against the bookcase he was standing next to and watched Damon from beneath lowered lashes, as the other man stood up and walked over to the window. It was obvious that the man was upset and by the shake of his shoulders, Scott surmised that Damon wanted to regain his composure before speaking. While they waited, he took the time to study the couple.

Hall bore a slight resemblance to his cousin, but only in the twice-removed kind of way. Whereas Hall's hair was a shortly cropped, rusty brown, liberally sprinkled with gray; Damon's was black, and fell in a widow's peak across his forehead. His eyes were blue, as opposed to smoky gray, and he was clean-shaven with full, pouty lips, whereas the Captain liked to sport a neat beard and mustache. His gaze fell to Cal Perry, who still sat in the chair, watching Damon anxiously. Cal was a very striking man, with skin the color of ebony, limpid brown eyes, a thin mustache and neatly trimmed, barely there goatee. Scott felt the man's genuine concern for his boyfriend, rolling off Cal in waves, and he watched the way he twisted his hands nervously in his lap while he waited for Damon to speak.

No one needed any explanation regarding Laurel Heights itself. The purpose-built, five-house cul de sac was famous in White Plains /before/ the incident last month; now it was the 'in' topic on everyone's lips. Laurel Heights was an exclusive gated community in the leafy suburb of North White Plains, seventeen miles outside of White Plains, and in a very sought after area to live, by the wealthier population of the city. There was, however, one stipulation to owning a property in Laurel Heights. You had to be a couple and you had to be gay.

The murder/suicide had happened just over a month ago when Cory Philips had, apparently in a fit of rage, shot his partner, Jon Webber in the head at close range. In his grief, it would appear that Philips had turned the gun on himself. The other residents of Laurel Heights had been interviewed and had testified as to the volatile nature of Jon and Cory's relationship, and the fact that they had been fighting on and off the day of the incident. As the Captain had said, pretty open and shut. Scott watched Damon slowly turn from the window and waited patiently for the man to collect himself before he began.

Damon wiped futilely at the tears still coursing down his cheeks. "I'm sorry," he said, his voice thick and raw as he took the clean tissue that Cal held out to him. "It's been very hard." He took a deep steadying breath and began again.

"I know the other residents of Laurel Heights said that Cory and Jon had a volatile relationship, but it's simply not true. They were young, in love and deliriously happy." He wiped at his nose and sank into the seat beside Cal before continuing. "They were the sweetest couple I've ever seen and I just don't believe a word of it. There is no way that Cory would have done that to Jon. No way on this earth. He would rather have cut off his own hand than hurt that boy. He /loved /him."

"Mr Hall, why would the other residents lie about the nature of Mr Philips' and Mr Webber's relationship? What reason would they have?" Will's deep voice echoed around the room.

Cal reached out for Damon's hand as the man dissolved into more tears, and picked up the story. "Detectives, I know that Laurel Heights is, shall we say, an unusual community, but there is more that goes on behind those closed doors than you or anyone else realizes." He glanced at Hall for affirmation and took a deep breath when his boyfriend indicated his acquiescence. "Look, we're not ashamed of it, although it is not to everyone's taste. There are certain practices once a month at Laurel Heights. We don't always indulge, but we have done and we know that Cory and Jon did too. We think whatever happened that night had to do with the part of Laurel Heights that only the residents see. That there was a reason they had to be silenced."

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