In this scene from the work-in-progress NAGLER’S SECERT, companions Detective Frank Nagler and Ironton, N.J. acting mayor Lauren Fox find themselves together at home for the first time in a while. The separation has been driven by the complex case of missing and dead children before them.
There are three points of dialogue that wrap around each other. The goal in writing the scene was to keep each point clean while entangling them.
The multi-award-winning Frank Nagler Mysteries are: THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY, A GAME CALLED DEAD, THE WEIGHT OF LIVING, THE RED HAND and DRAGONY RISING.
A reviewer’s note: The author is an exceptional writer – inventive with words, fresh with his storyline, and in presenting a variety of characters to love and hate. I find myself bored easily with most of the new books erupting daily, but Michael Stephen Daigle knows what he is doing and is up to the task. His stories capture me, entertain and challenge me, and leave me wanting just one more of his books each time I finish one.
THE SCENE: Frank Nagler kicked open the door to the kitchen with a grunt and backed into the room, arms filled with two bags and a six pack of Sam Adams.
He turned, held the door open with a shoulder and said, “Oh my, Lauren.”
She was asleep at the table, head resting on a stack of papers, her right hand clutching a few sheets more with two open boxes flanking her chair.
That was her life of late, Nagler knew. Boxes of old records, secrets, clues, hoping for answers. She had become the acting mayor of paper.
He slid the bags on the counter, opened two beers and kissed her cheek.
“Hey, wake up, kid, Got something you need to hear.”
When she didn’t move he brushed her cheek with a cold beer.
She jerked upright, shook her head, dropped the papers in her hand and wiped her cheek.
“Jeez, Frank. I was awake. Was waiting for something inviting and warm, you know like a kiss, not a drippy, cold beer bottle.” She ran her hand through her hair. “Give me the beer.”
After she sucked down a long drink, she stood and wrapped her arms around his neck, shifted, then hugged tighter.
Nagler fumbled to place his beer on the table and drew her body in. It had been weeks since they had been together like this, silent as the kitchen machines hummed around them, as a cold wind scraped dead leaves across the windows; what only mattered was her head on his chest and his arm pressing her lower back. Neither breathed.
He tasted the scent of her hair as he kissed her neck.
“What’s different about your hair?”
“Well, it used to be blue. Just for a week; before that it was green. Destiny and I had a competition going.”
They separated and each reached to finish their beers.
“No. Even I’d notice that.” He ran two fingers through her hair. It felt stiff. “It’s a little…”
“Yeah, I know. I was in the warehouse digging through records. You need to see what I found. I got back to the office just before a meeting with a state AG, so I did, shall we say, a quick office shower and used one of those dry shampoo things.” She pulled at a handful of her hair. “Don’t recommend.”
Lauren leaned her back into his chest and pulled his arms around her body.
“So what’d the AG say?”
“What’s in the bags” she asked. “Dinner, I’m hoping?”
He kissed her ear and then her neck. “Maybe something to nibble on.”
She arched her back and he ran a hand over her belly then up to her breasts.
“You had something to tell me. What is it?” she asked.
“Pasta, probably cold, salad and bread sticks. If we wait long enough we can have it for breakfast.”
“Where’d you get it?” She angled her head and kissed his chin. “What time is it?”
“About one a.m. So yeah, it’s cold.” He leaned down and they shared a long open-mouth kiss. “Angelo’s. Some manicotti, chicken marsala and …”
“Love their bread sticks, long thin, drippy with butter you can barely slip your mouth around…”
“And a half a cheese cake.”
“Mmmm.” She pulled away. “Heat it up while I take a shower and wash about eighty years of dust off me. You’re going to like what the AG said.”
“The ‘missing’ video was sent from a computer at Sister Katherine’s retreat. Dawson had someone trace it,” he said.
Lauren stopped in the doorway and stepped out of her black official acting mayor’s dress. “What the hell is she up to?”
“We’ll find out.” Nagler pulled the food containers from the bags and slipped open the lids. “Better if we had the time to heat this is the oven but the microwave will have to do. Hey, look at these things. No more tin containers. Some sort of stiff paper. How sustainable of Angelo. Who knew?”
He turned to show Lauren the packaging.
She was leaning on door jamb naked, her dark eyes glowing, the dress over a shoulder. “I know who started Sunshine Farms. You’re really gonna like it.”