“Your wench is on line seventeen.”
Detective James Whittaker pulled his attention from the murder case file he was reviewing to stare at his squadmate. “My what?”
Arthur Freeman, Whittaker’s usual partner in the Baltimore City Police Department, was leaning back in his chair, a grin on his wrinkled face. “Your wench. Those were her words.”
Whittaker raised an eyebrow as he pressed the button for extension 2117. “Since when are you my wench?”
“Since it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, me hearty. Arrr!” Cassie Ellis said, then stifled a giggle.
He shook his head. “Talk Like a Pirate Day?”
“Aye. ’Tis every September 19th. Quit rolling yer eyes,” she said in a firm tone that stopped him mid-roll. “It’s a real—I mean, ’tis a real holiday. Fer over ten years now.”
He moved the manila folder he had been reading in order to see his desk calendar. “Ah…so how does one celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day?”
“By talkin’ like a pirate, of course, matey. Have you hanged anyone from the yardarm? Killed any bilge-sucking rapscallions with your cutlass?"
Whittaker glanced down at his Glock, the closest thing he had to a cutlass. “Not lately.” When he heard Cassie sigh, he added a half-hearted, “Arrrr.”
“Oh, that sounded real enthusiastic, James. Anyway, I was wondering if you wanted to come over tonight and…shiver me timbers.”
He laughed. “Now that I can be enthusiastic about. But I don’t get off work until after eleven tonight.” Glancing at the right corner of his computer, he noted there were six hours to go. The first quarter of his shift had been rather quiet. He hoped the rest of the night would be the same.
“No problem, me matey. Actually, after you sailed out of port last night, I got inspired and wrote in me logbook for three hours. Okay, let me talk normal for a bit. Since I wrote until 4 a.m., I slept late this morning. Thank God for the automatic cat feeder or Donner would have woken me up much earlier.”
Donner meowed in the background at the mention of his name. Whittaker enjoyed picturing them. Cassie in the kitchen, where she spent the majority of her time; Donner near the food bowl, where he spent the majority of his time. In honor of the holiday, Whittaker added an eye patch to the cat and a wench costume to Cassie in his imaginary scene. With her red curls and blue eyes, she’d look fantastic. He had to clear his suddenly dry throat slightly before speaking. “Well, if you don’t mind me getting there late, I’ll come over after shift change.” There were definitely advantages to dating an author.
“I’ll even feed you. I’ve got some pirate grub for ye, also known as jambalaya.”
“I’ll be there, then. As long as we don’t get a call. I’m next up.” He winced as the other line lit up. Freeman picked it up before it could do more than bleep. Whittaker eyed his partner, heart sinking when the older man nodded toward him, then jerked his head slightly in a we’ve got-to-go motion.
“I spoke too soon,” he told Cassie.
“You should have knocked on wood. Or a peg leg,” she said. “Hopefully, you’ll have an easy case to close. Call me if you’ll be later than midnight. If not, just come over after you clap the dirty scallywag in irons and put him in the brig.”
He rolled his eyes at her pirate lingo. Crazy woman.
* * * *
Cassie wasn’t the only crazy one, Whittaker realized as he stepped out of his unmarked sedan onto the cobblestone pavement of Thames Street. All around him, people wearing eye patches, puffy shirts, and bandanas on their heads were stumbling about Fells Point, one of Baltimore’s prime entertainment districts. Whittaker even saw several people with parrots on their shoulders.
He noticed that the crowd, even drunk, instantly recognized him and Freeman as cops. Word on the street was that whenever a black man and white man, wearing suits, were seen together, they were either police detectives, feds, or someone was filming the next Men In Black installment.
"Okay, so there’s Captain Jack Sparrow,” Freeman said as they approached the cordoned-off crime scene, where two actors playing dueling pirates had reportedly fought to the death, literally, an hour before, when the loser fell into the harbor.
Whittaker followed Freeman’s gaze and had to agree that the distraught man talking to the uniform did look like Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean. He sported the complete ensemble: beaded dreadlocks, black-lined eyes, pale skin, trimmed mustache and goatee, and pirate clothing. “So does the guy who drowned look like whatshisname…Orlando Bloom’s character?”
“Will Turner,” Freeman answered. “And I guess we’ll find out when the recovery divers bring him back up. Probably won’t look too good, though.”
Whittaker scanned the scene until he spotted the dive team. The waters of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor offered poor visibility, so one diver on the surface was serving as tender, holding a rope to guide the virtually blind diver at the bottom. Whittaker saw the line go taut three times. Evidently the diver below had found something. Or someone.
He approached the Captain Sparrow lookalike and signaled the officer who had been speaking to him to step back. “I’m sorry to intrude. I’m Detective Whittaker.” He pointed at his partner. “Detective Freeman.”
The pirate-costumed man took a deep breath. “Shaun Gilmore.”
“Can you tell me what happened?” Whittaker asked.
Gilmore looked back at the dark water. “It was crazy. I don’t know what Larry was thinking. We were dueling, like we always do.” He gestured toward the cutlass tucked in his belt. “We do it all the time, at Renaissance festivals, the Fells Point Fun Festival, SCA events.”
Whittaker raised his eyebrows.
“SCA, that’s the Society for Creative Anachronism. Basically, we’ve performed this duel everywhere. Larry’s never done anything like this before.”
“Larry Bailey. We’re business partners.” Gilmore reached inside his doublet and pulled out a card.
Whittaker glanced down and did his best not to groan. The card read Swashbucklers Arrrr Us.
“So what exactly did Larry do today that he hasn’t done before?” Whittaker angled his body to block Gilmore’s view of the recovery divers pulling up the body.
He didn’t move quickly enough. The pirate’s already pale skin went dead white. Whittaker grasped Gilmore’s shoulders and turned him around so his back was toward the water. “What did he do, Mr. Gilmore?”
“Well, we’ve choreographed the duel so that Larry loses his cutlass and puts his hands up in surrender. Typically, then I force him to his knees, walk behind him, and pretend to knock him out.”
“Okay.” Whittaker did his best to focus on Gilmore’s words and not the pirate hat.
“This time, we had a good crowd watching. And when I disarmed him, he turned to me and said, ‘Well, you won, I guess I need to walk the plank.’ And then he freaking jumped off the pier and into the water. I tried to grab him and stop him, but it was too late. With all the heavy garb on, he sank like a stone. I kept waiting for him to come up, but he didn’t.”
“Wouldn’t he have realized the costume would weigh him down?” Whittaker asked after exchanging a dubious glance with Freeman. They had observed many examples of stupidity in past investigations, but this might be the worst.
“I would’ve thought so. Then again, he did have a lot of rum this evening.” Gilmore glanced toward one of the many bars on the waterfront. He shuddered once, violently.
“Why didn’t you go in after him?”
Gilmore shook his head. “I know how heavy our stuff is. If I had gone in, I would have gone under, too. And I’m not a good swimmer. I tried to get people to rescue him, and a few jumped in, but no one could find him.”
Whittaker wasn’t surprised. If Bailey had sunk to the bottom, it was way too far down for anyone to reach him. Huge sailing and freighter ships routinely docked at that pier, so obviously the water was quite deep.
“Were you paid to perform tonight?” Whittaker watched as the EMTs loaded the body bag into the ambulance.
Shouldn’t he have said aye? “By whom?”
“The Fells Point Foundation. They try to bring business here, so we were hired as entertainment. We’re one of the best-known pirate impersonator companies in the area.”
“You do look like Captain Jack Sparrow,” Freeman said, breaking in for the first time.
Gilmore swiveled his head sharply and sneered. “I am not Captain Jack Sparrow. Swashbucklers Arrrr Us is a historically accurate organization. We use only authentic costumes, weapons, and phrases. We act out historical events, not movies or books. It’s all serious. Other than the ‘Arrrr’ in our name, which we only agreed to because Maggie thought it was clever. Oh, God, Maggie!” Gilmore spun around toward the gawking crowd. “She took a break for dinner before all this started. She’s probably done by now.”
Whittaker noticed the uniforms struggling to hold back an attractive woman wearing a pirate wench costume. He raised an eyebrow at the miniscule amount of fabric. Good thing that this September evening in Baltimore was warm or she’d be freezing.
Whittaker hazarded a guess. “Is that Maggie?”
“Yeah. She’s another partner and performer in Swashbucklers.”
As soon as Whittaker gestured to the officers to release her, she raced over.
“What’s going on? Why are the police here? Are you okay?” the young woman asked with a mixture of concern and confusion.
“I’m fine, it’s just…” Gilmore sighed, ignored the other questions, and turned back to Whittaker. “This is Maggie Patrickson. She’s my girlfriend.”
Whittaker detected a certain defensive note to that declaration. “No need to worry, Mr. Gilmore. I seldom hit on witnesses.”
When Freeman coughed the word “Cassie,” Whittaker made a mental note to smack his partner later. Cassie was the reason he’d used the word seldom instead of never.
Gilmore’s girlfriend turned to face Whittaker, tucking a strand of dark hair beneath her bandana. “You can hit on me all you want, Officer Gray Eyes.”
“Detective,” he corrected, watching Gilmore’s jaw tighten. “I’m Detective Whittaker, this is Detective Freeman. We’re with Homicide.”
“Homicide!” she squeaked. She grabbed Gilmore’s arm and looked around frantically. “Oh, God. Where’s Larry?”
When Gilmore shot him a pleading look, Whittaker answered, “I’m sorry to inform you that there was an incident this evening during the performance. Mr. Bailey is dead. He apparently drowned in the harbor.” He watched as all the color leached out of her tanned skin and tears filled her eyes.
“No! No. What happened?” Whittaker eyed the weeping woman closely as Gilmore related what had occurred. When Gilmore explained that Bailey had said he’d “walk the plank” before jumping in, Whittaker saw confusion in her eyes before she covered her face with both hands and sobbed.
“Excuse us for a moment.” Whittaker and Freeman left Gilmore to comfort his girlfriend and walked over to the uniforms. “What are the witnesses saying, Officer…Franklin?” Whittaker asked.
The officer stood up taller for his report. “We’ve spoken with all the witnesses who stayed after the incident. That was most of them, fortunately. We got here pretty quickly, and I think everyone still thought it was part of the act. They all state that the two men, Bailey and Gilmore, were performing a highly skilled, highly intricate duel with cutlasses and daggers, which took them very close to the edge of the pier. Suddenly, Bailey appeared to jump toward the water. Gilmore grabbed at him, but apparently too late.”
“Was anyone close enough to hear their dialogue during this duel?”
“Initially, yes.” Franklin checked his notes. “Mostly it was just taunts and threats back and forth, some of which were funny enough to make the crowd laugh. But as they approached the edge, they apparently dropped their voices. One of the witnesses said what she could hear sounded more like stage directions, like ‘take a step to the left,’ ‘watch out for the lamp post,’ things of that nature.”
“Which witness was that?”
The officer nodded toward two people wrapped in blankets and sitting on one of the benches. “The one on the left. She was the first to go in after the guy, too. Name’s Denise Rush. Guy with her is her husband, Tom.”
“I’ll take the wife, you take the husband,” Whittaker told Freeman. They walked toward the witnesses, with Whittaker’s shoes making clopping noises on the cobblestoned streets the whole way. When he reached Mrs. Rush, she raised her head, tears in her eyes. Whittaker introduced himself and led her a few yards down the pier so they weren’t within hearing distance of anyone.
“I was a lifeguard,” Rush said when they stopped. “I should’ve been able to get to him. Maybe if I had reacted sooner.” She scrubbed at her face. “No, what am I saying? It wouldn’t have mattered. He went down so fast. I dove down as far as I could, and don’t think I was anywhere near him. Not that you could tell in such murky water.”
Whittaker offered her what comfort he could. “It’s very deep in that location. There was nothing you could have done differently.”
She blinked away her tears. “Thank you, Detective.”
“When did you jump in after Mr. Bailey?”
“Is that his name?” Rush said. “I didn’t know his name. I just watched some guy die, and I didn’t know his name.” She stared at the water and took a deep breath before answering his original question. “As soon as he fell in, pretty much. That other guy started yelling and pointing so I looked down and saw that he hadn’t surfaced. I dove in.”
“Did you hear anything before Mr. Bailey entered the water?”
The witness looked up at him. “Like what?”
Whittaker didn’t want to lead her to the answer, so he skirted around it. “Maybe something that indicated what was about to happen. What led up to Mr. Bailey entering the water?”
Rush pursed her mouth in consideration. “I didn’t hear anything that showed he was about to do that. Like I told the other officer, it was a lot of under-the-breath type of stuff, more stage directions. I think the one guy, Bailey…” She paused for a deep breath. “Bailey said, ‘step to the left. We’re too close to the edge,’ and then the other guy—”
“Gilmore,” Whittaker supplied.
“Gilmore said something like ‘don’t worry, I’m being careful. Are you careful?’ Then Bailey said ‘always.’ Gilmore said something else, but I didn’t hear it. Then they stepped even closer to the edge and said a few other things. I couldn’t hear any of that though.”
“Was anyone else near enough to hear?”
Rush glanced back at the edge of the pier, then shook her head. “Other than my husband, no, I don’t think so. They were swinging their cutlasses all over the place. One of them even took out a dagger. They were probably stage props, but they looked sharp and shiny enough. So people were giving them a pretty wide berth.”
“Did you see the other performer with them? The female?” Whittaker said, following a sudden hunch.
She surprised him with a laugh. “Oh, trust me, I saw her. So did my husband. She’s hard not to notice.” Rush sobered quickly, staring down at her clenched hands. “But that was earlier in the day. They’ve been performing all over the place. I don’t think she was around during that final show. In fact, I remember that while we were sitting here, after the officers told us to wait to talk to a detective, she walked out of the pub across the street, then ran over when she noticed the crowd.”
Whittaker ran through it again, but Rush’s story didn’t change much. After reconnecting with Freeman, who didn’t have anything new to add from Rush’s husband, Whittaker headed back to talk to Maggie Patrickson. When he took her aside, Gilmore didn’t look pleased.
“Ms. Patrickson, how long have you known Mr. Bailey and Mr. Gilmore?”
She rubbed her eyes before answering. “I’ve been going out with Shaun for two years now, I guess. We met at the local theater.”
“And Mr. Bailey?” She blinked back tears. “We met about a year ago when we did a performance of Pirates of Penzance. We formed Swashbucklers right after that.”
“Is there anything you know about Mr. Bailey that would have caused you to expect tonight’s actions?”
“No. God, no. I can’t imagine what would make him do that. It’s crazy. Larry wasn’t crazy.”
“Could he have been under the influence of alcohol?” He could tell that Patrickson certainly was. He could smell the rum from three feet away.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe when he took his dinner break. We alternate so there are always at least two people performing. We take our jobs very seriously. Larry, especially. He was obsessed with accuracy, read up on real pirates, refused to participate in what he called ‘pirate myths’ like talking about buried treasure or singing ‘Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest’ and stuff like that. He said that was all stuff from the movies.”
Whittaker waved his hand up and down, indicating her costume. “This outfit is accurate?”
She glanced down. “This? Well, no.” She tried to smile through the tears. “I used to dress up like a female pirate, but since that just meant I dressed like a man, it wasn’t terribly popular with our audiences. People seemed to like this costume more…especially drunk frat boys. Our repeat business went up when I switched to this outfit. Neither guy liked it—Shaun since he’d get jealous and Larry due to the inaccuracy—but they had to admit the company was doing better with it.”
"So you don’t know what could have happened tonight?”
“No. He was happy. We were all happy.”
* * * *
Whittaker and his partner talked to several more people, finishing up with Shaun Gilmore again. No one added anything important to their previous account. They notified Bailey’s parents of his death—a task Whittaker would never grow used to—and now they were back in the office. Whittaker stared at the computer screen, reading up on Swashbucklers. The online reviews of the company were good—plenty of positive comments on Maggie Patrickson, especially.
There were also several mentions of their authenticity and attention to detail. There was no mention of any incidents or issues. No obvious money problems. No criminal records on any of the performers, other than several unpaid parking and speeding tickets for Patrickson. Nothing pointed toward foul play. Perhaps Freeman was right, and this was just a case of death by stupidity.
It wouldn’t be the first time. Just last month, Whittaker and Freeman investigated a case in which the deceased had been found nude, with duct tape covering his entire head. It appeared to be homicide, but after a thorough and bizarre investigation, they found evidence that the deceased had unusual inclinations, including autoerotic asphyxiation. The idiot did it to himself.
So it wasn’t farfetched to speculate that Bailey decided to do this one trick to delight the crowd without considering that he was weighed down by heavy period clothing. It was like that Warner Brothers cartoon, when Daffy blows himself up and says, “I can only do it once.”
Whittaker’s phone rang, and he cursed as he read Cassie’s number on the display. He’d forgotten to let her know he’d miss dinner. “Sorry, honey, I got tied up,” he said in lieu of a greeting.
“I hope not literally,” she said. “Did someone tie ye up to the mainmast?”
Good. Cassie obviously wasn’t mad at him, since she was still using pirate speak.
“No, not literally. The only thing I’m tied to is the computer screen. Research.”
“So, who died?”
She took a moment to respond. “Seriously? What happened, did someone fire off a flintlock?”
“No. Accidental death, probably. We had some pirate re-enactors performing a choreographed duel, and then one of them ended up in the harbor. Not sure yet if he jumped in, fell in, or was pushed in. Regardless, he went straight down to Davey Jones’s locker.”
“Nice pirate reference, but, wow, that’s odd. Was alcohol involved? Or more to the point, too much rum?”
“Maybe.” He shrugged. “Anyway, sorry I’m going to miss dinner.”
“Have ye had any grub tonight?”
“No.” He looked down when his stomach grumbled. “Something my body just reminded me of.”
“I can bring you over some jambalaya, and we can eat there. Not the intimate dinner I planned, but it’ll work.”
“I’d love it. I’ll be the envy of the department, eating your food instead of takeout.” He grinned over at Freeman who was frowning at him over what looked like a ham sandwich.
“Since Freeman is probably scowling at you, tell him I’ll bring him some, too,” Cassie said. “Be there in ten minutes.”
Whittaker hung up, walked to Freeman’s desk, and leaned against it. “Throw that thing away.” He nodded at Freeman’s sandwich. “Cassie’s bringing over some real food. Pirate grub.”
“I am.” Whittaker grinned. “Be happy I share. Cassie’s a great cook. But more amazing, she doesn’t get bent out of shape when I work late. I love her flexibility.”
Freeman snorted. “I’m sure you do.”
Whittaker smacked his partner on the back of the head. “Not that way.” He called down to the parking lot and let them know to expect a visitor. Then he went back to his research.
“Have you found anything about a life insurance policy?” Whittaker asked a couple minutes later. Bailey’s parents had been too devastated when they were informed of their son’s death to answer any questions about finances.
“Not according to his insurance agent,” Freeman said, lifting up the evidence bag that contained Bailey’s soggy belongings. Freeman’s first job had been to call up the local agent they had found listed in Bailey’s wallet.
Whittaker went back to researching the company. When Cassie called him from her car, he took the elevator down to the garage level and escorted her back up to the fifth floor. “So how was your day?” he asked, enjoying the smell wafting from the bag he’d taken from her. “Did you get some writing done?”
“Some. Mostly I did research.” As they stepped off the elevator, she perused the pictures of wanted criminals hanging on the bulletin boards. “Nope, still don’t recognize anyone.”
“What did you research? Something for your latest book?”
“Pirates, actually.” She pushed open the door to the homicide department and called out greetings to the detectives she knew. “It’s fascinating stuff.”
“If you say so.” They reached Whittaker’s desk. He pulled the containers from the bag.
“You thinking of making your next book The Marauder Murders to stay with your ‘M’ alliteration theme?”
“No,” Cassie said as she portioned out the food. “I just got distracted.”
After Freeman grabbed his plate with a smile and returned to his desk, Whittaker settled behind his own. He scooped up some jambalaya, enjoying the spicy blend of chicken, sausage, and rice. “I’m rather sick of pirates, to tell the truth. Fells Point was crazy.”
“I’m sure.” Cassie pulled a chair to Whittaker’s desk. “But those aren’t real pirates. That’s just people imitating what they see in movies. It’s not accurate. For example, I read that there were only three instances when pirates buried their treasure. And they never needed maps to find it again, since it was evidently so poorly hidden, it was immediately found.”
Whittaker continued to eat his dinner as he listened to Cassie spout off facts about pirates. It fascinated him how much she enjoyed her research, regardless of the subject. She would talk with the same gusto about decaying corpses, effects of poisons, or the history of the Baltimore Orioles.
“And then there’s the ridiculous idea of parley. Like pirates are really going to let a prisoner have temporary protection until they work out a negotiation. Pirates didn’t do that. Sure, they had some code of ethics, but that was more to maintain order on a ship. They truly were ruthless, at least some of them at…”
He tuned out for a while, enjoying the sound of her voice but thinking about today’s case. There was something wrong. He didn’t trust Gilmore…or Maggie Patrickson. At the very least, he wouldn’t trust her if he were dating her. She had checked him out a little too easily for his liking, especially while standing next to her boyfriend of two years. Of course, infidelity doesn’t make for a murderer. Plus, she wasn’t on the scene when the death occurred so how—
He tuned back into Cassie’s conversation. “What did you just say?”
She and Freeman were laughing, most likely at him. “I said it was true that pirates carried pterodactyls on their shoulders. I wanted to see if you were paying attention.”
“Ha-ha. I was paying attention, mostly.” He was relieved that she didn’t seem annoyed at him. Since she often spaced out into her own thoughts and plotting, she never complained when he did the same. Another advantage to dating an author.
“So is the parrot thing true?”
“Actually, that does look to be true. Pirates traveled to exotic places, and parrots were easy to take care of. Plus they’d fetch a good price at various ports. But another thing that isn’t true is…”
Piracy was often about money and greed, Whittaker mused, tuning into his own thoughts again. Could greed have played a role in this drowning? It did in many homicides, but he couldn’t see how it related to this death. According to the Swashbucklers Arrrr Us website, the team had appeared at many locations, so they were busy. But they didn’t charge much per gig. So probably no one would gain financially from Bailey’s death. And again, it looked like an accident. Was he suspicious for no reason or—
“What did you say?” This time he was drawn back into Cassie’s monologue for a different reason.
“I said that the whole ‘walking the plank’ thing was a fabrication as well. It was easier to just toss them over the side, or abandon them to starve on a deserted island, or if you were in a bad mood, keelhaul them. But ‘walk the plank’ was more a fabrication of fiction books.”
Whittaker stared over at Freeman. They both dropped their spoons and stood up. “Hey, Garcia,” Whittaker called to a detective a few desks over. “Can you walk Cassie out?”
“Aye aye, captain,” he answered.
Whittaker leaned over and kissed Cassie on the nose. “You’ve just given us a lead. I’ll see you later tonight.”
* * * *
Yes, there were definitely advantages to having an author as a girlfriend. Armed with Cassie’s info that walking the plank was a myth, Whittaker brought Gilmore in for interrogation. It didn’t take long to get the truth out of the young man, especially after Freeman pushed the medical examiner for Bailey’s blood alcohol content. It was only .01, far too low to have affected Bailey’s thought processes, and far, far too low for Gilmore’s story that Bailey had been drinking a lot to be true. After Whittaker pointed out Gilmore’s lies, as well as the shallow dagger wound that the M.E. had found on the body, Gilmore confessed quickly.
Although it was late by the time Whittaker finished booking Gilmore, he headed to Cassie’s to thank her for her information. He filled her in on the case as she got them both drinks.
“Well, I’m glad you were paying attention to me, James. And it’s cool that I helped you close a case.”
“You definitely did.” He sat down on the couch and slipped out of his shoes, laughing when the cat came over to bury his face in the smelly interior of one of his loafers. “It seemed unlikely that someone as obsessed with accuracy as the victim would ever turn around and talk about ‘walking the plank.’ Gilmore made that part up. Evidently what they were really saying under their breath was about Patrickson. Gilmore had told Bailey that it wasn’t careful to leave his sweatshirt in Maggie’s bedroom.”
“Ah, so cheating rears its ugly head,” Cassie said.
“You got it. The victim and Patrickson had evidently been having an affair for months. So Gilmore decided to get rid of his competition. He also had a real dagger with him for this fight instead of a prop.”
“So that’s why Bailey jumped away.”
“Correct. In fact, we found a small wound on the right side of his body, along with a hole in his doublet. So Gilmore did get a slight poke in, just enough to let his former friend know he was serious.”
“Then Gilmore pretended to try and grab him?” Cassie asked. “Pretty ballsy move to kill someone in front of an audience.”
“Agreed.” He leaned down to scratch Donner, who had draped his dark furry body over both shoes. “He said he thought it would convince everyone that it had been Bailey’s stupidity that led to his death. Initially, he had decided to have an ‘accident’ during a duel practice, then decided it would be more effective in front of people. Anyway, thank you again for your help.” He kissed her.
“My pleasure. Now, maybe you can help me.” She nestled against him and ran her fingers through his hair. “I’ve been writing a love scene, and I’m afraid I’m suffering from writer’s block. How about we re-enact it and see if you can provide some inspiration?”
Oh yeah, there were definitely advantages to dating an author.