This is, once again, the video my daughter made for The Long Way Home. This book was kind of a labor of love for me. It’s long, for one thing, and takes place in all the California beach cities where I grew up. I used to stay at the beach with my family, mostly my mom and sister because my dad worked, in the summer. Now we take the kids camping at the Dunes. I worked in Lido Village for a while, and ate in all those restaurants. When it comes to partying on the boats, lashed together in the ‘Rhine Channel’? Been there, done that. (But don’t tell the kids 😯 )
The book itself can’t be considered a mystery, it’s more romantic suspense. Kevin meets Connor while working on the disappearance of several boys from California beach cities. While he’s going over the case, it begins to dawn on him that unresolved issues in Connor’s past have a direct bearing on the case. Not just that they’re connected, but that Connor himself might be the key.
When they meet, there’s no real reason to imagine that romantic sparks will fly. On the contrary, Kevin is taciturn and dismissive, and Connor feels plain put out… but sometimes those beginnings can be the most auspicious…
Dougal knew when he finally spotted Quinn, not by his looks per se, but his bearing. He had heard from Lubbock that Quinn had been in a terrible car wreck that blinded him in one eye and left him a little awkward. “Quinn?” he asked the man, reaching to take the garment bag he carried. “I’m Dougal.”
“Thanks, Dougal, I got it,” said Quinn, slinging the bag over his shoulder and wheeling his pilot case.
Dougal looked at Quinn, who had a laptop case in addition to the two bags. “Have you been catching up on the case?”
“Yeah,” said Quinn. “Grim.”
“I was kind of expecting you to know who I am,” said Dougal. Some psychic, he’d practically had to hold up a sign with the guy’s name on it.
“This is an airport. There are other plain-clothed cops here,” said Quinn, looking around.
“Don’t I get a demonstration?” said Dougal.
“Sure. Let’s see,” Quinn looked him over. “You’re a skeptic, you wear nerdy clothes, probably drive a boring car, and read novels by… Ana Wexler,” Quinn read the name off the book Dougal carried under his arm.
“How am I doing so far?”
Dougal smiled with an equanimity he no longer felt. “What can you tell me about what you don’t see.”
Quinn looked at him with a kind of disinterested contempt. “I can tell you that whatever I can’t see interests me not at all,” he said, effectively ending the conversation.
Intensely irritated but refusing to show it, Dougal led him to his Chevrolet Malibu. He opened it remotely, allowing Quinn to put his gear in the back seat. He waited patiently for the man to settle and fasten his seat belt.
“I guess you know where to go, cause I don’t,” Quinn said as Dougal pulled out of the parking garage into the gridlocked stop and go traffic leading out of the airport.
“Yes, I do,” said Dougal, wishing to heaven he’d never wanted to be a police officer in the first place.
“Lubbock told me the Prime Directive is to keep you unofficial. You are to stay at my place for the time being. I have a two bedroom and I live alone.” He cringed, waiting for a tirade that never came.
“Did you say prime directive? Are you a Trekkie, by any chance, Dougal?” asked Quinn in his dangerously soft voice. “My new roommate’s a Trekkie. We’ll have to have some kind of signal if you bring home any beautiful alien girls, like a towel on the door or something.” Dougal looked uncomfortably at the man sitting next to him. Did he know how close he came to the truth about his college years, especially about the towel on the door? That was a little unnerving.
“Don’t get bent, Trekkie. We all put something on the door, you seemed like a towel man. I went to a private Catholic boy’s school back east, and we used our ties,” he said.
Dougal stomped hard on the breaks at a yellow light. He hadn’t been paying too much attention, and now, he’d just caught up. This man was trying to unnerve him, and was doing a pretty good job.
“What do I do when I want to bring a boy home?” Quinn asked, almost daring him to lose control again.
Dougal knew it was some sort of test. “Make sure he’s legal and glove up, I guess,” said Dougal with more confidence than he actually felt. “It’s not in the statutes anymore I don’t think.”
“Well thank you,” Quinn said lazily, “we’ll get along just fine.”
Dougal doubted it, really; he doubted it very much.