A Little Sin
Garland watched the attractive, dark-haired man with mixed feelings. They were bonded by death and blood—just like he and the men who became his brothers in the Great War. Death had a way of pulling you into its embrace and making you family. He also felt connected to Sheriff Avery O’Rourke because they both wore masks. They were members of a velvet gang who lived on the fringes of a ruthless, heterosexual tyranny. They were shadow men.
And yet he couldn’t shake a feeling—some instinct—that Avery belonged, at least in some small degree, to many of the things he loathed. Garland had not come ‘home’ to Timberland with joy in his heart. He had fallen back to it like Icarus, his wings in tatters, his heart broken. He had returned to the red dirt and haunted forests to bury his sorrow. In front of others, he tried to keep his smile in place, but he fell apart when alone. Five years had passed since the war, and over six months had passed since he had discovered Philippe dead. He hadn’t fully recovered from either trauma; he wasn’t sure he ever would.
Ruggedly handsome Avery, with his smoky blue eyes the color of aged denim and that trim beard shading his firm jaw, could be an interesting diversion…or he could be something else entirely. For now, Garland tamped his desire down and focused on the dead man on the table. He huffed smoke. “I’ll do a thorough examination and take notes. I’ve never performed a dissection—er—autopsy—on a man before, but men are animals.”
At that, Avery bristled. “Men are God’s children. We aren’t beasts.”
Katydid hopped up on the table and sniffed the doctor’s groin. Garland stuck his cigarette in his mouth and gathered the errant calico in his arms. “Off,” he murmured through his cigarette and released her a foot off the ground. She poured out of his hands and weaved around his legs. “Men are either miracles or they’re monsters,” he told Avery. “Either way, their bodies aren’t that much different from a hog’s. Which is good for you, because I can help you with this murder case.”