Adam carried the laptop to Justin’s car a vintage muscle car painted black and blue.
“You drive a 64’ Camaro?”
“Yeah, people keep telling me that, so I guess it’s true.”
“My dad has one, and only lets me drive it when I come to visit and when he’s with me.”
“How old are you?” Justin joked.
“Ha, ha, for your information I’m still on punishment for crashing his last vintage car—when I was sixteen. Was this a graduation gift from your family?”
“No, I’m borrowing it from someone while my Fiat is getting a new paint job.”
“You know what a Fiat is but not a 64’ Camaro?” Justin just shrugged.
“Is this person a friend of yours?”
“Yeah, he’s a Professor at my college.”
“Please tell me he’s not one of your—professors?”
“No, he’s not, he’s the head of the robotics department. My major is computer science/criminal law.”
“Aren’t you worry someone might steal it?”
“No, the guys who work in the café here watches it for me.” Adam looked as Justin smiled and waved in the direction of twin brothers in the small coffee shop, one serving and the other wiping down tables. “They’re sweet and very observant.” Justin climbed in, and Adam handed him the laptop.
“I’ll call you later to touch base after I see Patrick.”
“So tomorrow morning?” Adam closed the driver side door and grinned at his assistant as he rolled the window down.
“Now that Patrick hired me--this is all business.”
“Just be careful you still don’t know the whole story and the police seem to believe Patrick had a hand in all of this.”
“I have this covered Justin. We’ll talk soon, bye.”
Adam watched as Justin drove off safely. He reentered the building locking the front door and elevator. He closed up his office and climbed the stairs to his apartment. He checked the fire escape seeing the ladder was in the up position and locked. He noticed the bathroom window lock broken, so he took an extension cord and bond the handles securing the window.
He went through another hidden door located in his kitchen. He took the stairs down to the first floor and exited through the back of the building. He didn’t want to take his jeep that was parked in front of the building instead he walked three blocks over and hailed a cab.
He told the driver to take him to a specific car rental. That day Adam lucked out, a silver dodge viper begged him to drive it. Even though, he should keep a low profile he couldn’t resist after seeing Justin’s loaner.
The drive to the docks took about twenty-five minutes. Adam picked up food for two and drove around to make sure no one was following him. He parked in a crowded lot and walked the dock looking for Patrick’s place. Patrick’s three-floor condo sat at the corner of the pier just as he told Adam.
Adam pressed in the door code on the gray push pad and saw the light change from red to green unlocking the door. He entered the place that was huge and furnished with a metropolitan style. The view was amazing with the floor to ceiling windows that were tinted or at least that’s what he thought.
“Hello, Patrick, it’s Adam Potter.” No answer. He wasn’t sure if he should stay when he heard a pleasant male’s voice.
“Welcome.” The voice seems to be all around him. The lighting in the room adjust. It was as if the windows were breathing out the right amount of light entering the room.
“The robotic butler will take it for you,” said the voice. A short sturdy Droid on treads rolled over to Adam and opened a tray on its chest to accept the bags of food. Adam sat the items down on the tray, and the Droid turned on a dime and rolled away.
The voice overhead continued.
“Patrick was informed of your arrival, Mr. Potter. If you would please, follow the lit path that will lead you to Patrick’s sitting room upstairs.”
Adam looked at the smooth floor that pulsated small blue lights that traveled across the surface in a straight line then seem to bounce up the staircase. The light show continued its journey until Adam began to follow.
Bookcases filled with old leather-bound books lined the hallway. Two lounge couches sat between the shelves. Artwork that looked older than the books hung on the walls. At the end of the foyer were double doors, with oversized brass handles. Adam heard a catchy song, in Japanese, sung by a female.
Adam raised his fist to knock when the doors swung open. Patrick stood barefoot, with damp hair from a shower wearing only a robe and a big smile.
“You came,” he said wrapping his arms around Adam’s neck. “I was so scared that you wouldn’t,” he said into Adam’s shoulder. Adam held Patrick close smelling the sweet coconut shampoo he washed his hair with and his cocoa butter body lotion.
“I keep my promises,” said Adam feeling the fine material of the robe that covered Patrick’s naked body as they parted.
“Yes and I’m going to keep mine. But first I should get dressed.” He gathered the handcrafted rode around his exposed chest. “Please come in,” he said stepping sideways so Adam could enter first. Only Adam was reluctant.
“Maybe I should wait downstairs,” said Adam, not trusting himself with Patrick wearing practically--nothing and getting dressed in front of him.
“Don’t be silly you can wait in the sitting room while I go into my bedroom. Besides, I feel safer now. I want my detective close by me.” He grabbed Adam’s hand and forearm, pulling him over the threshold. Adam entered the room and was shocked to see another apartment.
The sitting area had a large sofa and oversized coffee table with an earthy tone. It faced a wide window that displayed an infinity pool with a waterfall on the right and left sides. The view beyond that was the river and skyline.
He turned and saw a wide spiral staircase that looked as if it was crafted by a master carpenter. The attention to detail to the wood steps and bending iron was magnificent.
Patrick noticed Adam staring at his staircase. He walked over to them and stepped up to the third step.
“Don’t you just love this?” he asked touching the rail. “It was a birthday gift from a friend.
“It is…” but he caught sight of Patrick wearing his robe that dragged when he walked. Half of his upper body exposed for Adam’s gaze. That is until he traveled up to Patrick’s face that was full of youthfulness. His curls dangled over his forehead and eyes highlighting the hazel jewels. Adam’s pants felt so uncomfortable at that moment. “…breathtaking.”
“My bedroom is just above. I’ll be right back. Then we can talk. Help yourself to the bar, it’s just over there.” He scaled the wooden steps trimmed with black iron and vanished at the top.
Adam looked to where he pointed and saw a full-size bar fully stocked with wine, a beer tap and every white and brown liquor good money can buy. “This must mean he’s at least twenty-one,” Adam said. “But then again he is wealthy and money can get even an underage person whatever they wanted.”
Adam didn’t need anything strong in him, but he was hungry. He caught in the corner of his eye the wall behind the bar sliding up, and the robot from downstairs rolled out. A tray balanced on his head holding the food Adam brought, all laid out. It rolled over to the coffee table and quietly and skillfully lowered the tray.
It left as it came, in silences. Adam looked at the food and back at the robot who disappeared behind the bar and the wall closed. He has got to tell his mother about what he just saw he would flip. He laughed to himself.
“What’s so funny?” ask Patrick. Adam was surprised as he turned and saw him now wearing a loose pair of jean still barefoot and a worn out tee shirt that hugged his fit torso.
“Nothing, well you have a robot butler, and that’s something you don’t see in someone’s home.”
“Really, you’ve never seen one before?”
“Only in movies.”
“Oh,” he said looking downward, thinking then looked back at Adam. “I can make sure Poe stays downstairs if he makes you uncomfortable,” he said
“No, he doesn’t make me uncomfortable. It’s just new to me—but it’s cool.”
“Good. Do I smell food?”
“Yeah, I grabbed some on the way and your robot brought it up on a tray.”
“Poe,” Patrick blurted out.
“His name, it’s Poe. You can call him that.”
“He was a gift. I can depend on him.”
“Could you depend on Gavin?”
Patrick closed his eyes for a moment remembering how Gavin died on top of him. He shook his head.
“No, I couldn’t.”
“Tell you what, let’s eat first then we’ll talk about the case?”
They enjoyed the humble meal with conversation.
“So…” Adam tapped his chopsticks in his noodles. “…you’re twenty-one—right?” Patrick finished chewing wiping his mouth clean with the cloth napkin he had on his lap before answering.
“As of last weekend, I am.” Adam nodded.
“Sorry, I missed your birthday. Did you celebrate with anyone?”
“If you mean with Gavin yes we had dinner with my parents.”
“Gavin spent a lot of time with your parents?”
“He liked it when they invited him over. I just learned he was talking with my parents about marrying me.”
“Marriage--wow. Was that something you and Gavin talked about?”
“No. I wanted nothing from him. except my freedom.”
The door behind the bar opened, and Poe reappeared with another tray holding a pitcher filled with water, sliced cucumbers, and sliced lemons. Again Poe lowered the tray to the table skillfully. Adam watched as the Droid’s arms that were fingerless rose to grab the glassware. Then a thin metal appendage retracted from a small opening at the hump area. The metal unraveled into five tentacles like fingers. One set handled each glass with ease as the other five lift the pitcher and poured out the refreshment.
“Thank you, Poe,” Patrick cheerfully said.
“You’re welcome, Patrick. Will there be anything else?”
“No, you can go.”
“As you wish.” Again the Droid returned to the bar and entered the wall, and the door closed.
“Do you have anyone living here other than yourself?” asked Adam.
“Just Poe. A cleaning service comes in once a week.”
“So who unpacked this food?”
“Poe. He could have cooked us something he’s an amazing chef.”
“He can cook?”
“Cook, clean; he can fix anything, fold and hang my clothes.”
“Do you take Poe with you to your parents or Gavin’s?”
“I took him to Gavin’s—once,” Patrick glanced at his drink. “He and his friends poured beer on him and made him ride them around. So I brought him home. When I go out, Poe shuts down until I come back.”
“How long have you had this place?”
“Only two years. It was a gift I bought for myself for when I want to disappear.”
“Like you did when Detective Cutter came to take you in for questioning?”
“He came there with his verdict on me. He thinks I’m guilty.”
“Is he right?”
“No, he not.”
“Then why did you run?”
“I don’t trust the police.”
“Patrick I know A.J. can be intimidating but he is a good honest detective.”
“What about Detective Cutter? Who’s he to you?”
“He’s A.J.’s partner and mentor.”
“Do you trust Detective Cutter?”
“It’s not about me trusting him. It’s about him knowing his job.”
“That’s not an answer Adam.”
“I believe Artie Cutter knows his job and you should trust he will listen to you.”
“Not good enough. I have too much at stake to risk being blamed for Gavin’s death.”
“Where did you meet Gavin?”
“Our parents arranged a play dates, and we became friends. I lost touch with him when he went to a traditional high school, and I remain home to do my studies. I went to study abroad, and when I got back we ran into each other.”
“So he knew about your family’s money?”
“Not until we started dating.”
“Did you start dating after meeting up?”
“We did but I wasn’t ready for sex. Sure we kissed but nothing else.”
“Gavin was fine with that?”
“At first he was. We connected on a different level, and things seem to be nice.
“When did it all change?” Patrick looked away towards his bar. He rolled his tongue in his mouth trying to fight the dryness that settled in his throat.
“Would you like a drink detective?” he asked with a sideways glance to Adam hoping he says yes.
Adam studied the flawless face and found it hard to believe he was of legal drinking age.
“Maybe a small one.” Before he could continue, Patrick was on his feet advancing to the bar.
“Do you like cognac?” he called over his shoulder.
Adam stood and watched as Patrick poured two small tumblers. Carrying them over and handing one to Adam. The smell of the sweet and woody flavor told Adam’s nose this was the good stuff. They returned to the couch as Adam watched Patrick swallow a large amount of the drink. Not even flinching from the strong bite at the end.
“Six months ago I found out Gavin was having sex with other people during our relationship.”
“He invited me to a bar called The Cave. And that’s was one of the places where he would hook up. Right away his friends, I knew nothing about, were telling me how great he was in bed or how he always had the best fuck pArties. I was shocked and left humiliated. He followed me. He told me that it was my fault that he had to find sex someplace else that I was selfish in holding back.”
“He made you feel guilty.”
“Yeah, and at that time my parent’s, were focused on their problems, so I didn’t have anyone to confide in. So—stupid me let him talk me into going back to his place. Just to talk he said. It wasn’t just to talk.”
“Your first time.”
“Yeah, and it was rough and painful, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I don’t know why anyone said he was great in bed. He was demanding and mean if I didn’t say I enjoyed it. He’d told me no one wants a broken boy with so much baggage.”
His tears fell so freely that Adam had to take his drink from him placing it on the coffee table. He wanted to grab hold of Patrick and never let go but instead he took his hand and held it firm.
“That’s not true Patrick I can contest to that.”
“Being with you made me see a different side of it all. And I liked being there with you Adam.”
Adam knew he shouldn’t, but he damn it all, as he kissed the younger male hard on the mouth sending heated and sparks throughout their bodies. Patrick shocked Adam by breaking away first.
“No, Adam I need to tell you everything, and then after, if you want to be with me still, then I would love that.”
“Okay,” Adam said trying to get his breathing and pounding chest under control. “Go on then tell me everything.” Patrick took a deep breath and released through his mouth before answering.
“I wanted to leave him after the first time but Gavin sweet talked his way back. Saying now that we’ve bonded that things between us will only get stronger.
“Did you believe him?”
“I was lonely and in a bad place he was willing to put up with me.”
Adam wanted to tell Patrick that there was nothing wrong with him that as far as he was concern Patrick was perfect and that Gavin was the screw-up. But he still needed answers.
“Tell me about the store on the first floor and the door that leaded to Gavin’s apartment.”