Death and Her Devotion(4)

By: Kendra Elliot

“So he died between ten last night and two in the morning,” said Zane.

“Roughly,” emphasized Hank.

“Sounds like Josh was the last one to see him, around midnight last night,” said Kenny, rejoining the group. “I’ll double-check with the guy waiting out by the Hummer . . . the bug guy . . .”

“Spider,” supplied Stevie.

“Yeah, him. I’ll ask if he saw him after that, but Toby and Josh don’t think he did.”

“That tightens our window a bit,” said Zane. “We need to get those guys separated and start asking questions.”

Stevie nodded. “I’m on it.”

Zane studied the dead TV star. The famous Detective Alex Gunn was dead.

Time for me to figure out who did it.


Stevie watched Josh Black’s hands shake as he accepted a cup of coffee from her. She noticed he simply held it, not drinking.

The man looked shell-shocked.

She’d driven him back to the station while Zane drove the other two men and young Brandon. Kenny had stayed behind to question some of the other campers. A few people had finally emerged from their tents and watched as the wagon from the morgue slowly made its way to the far end of the campground. By the time Stevie and Zane were ready to leave, the number of people had increased to more than twenty.

She’d pulled Ralph aside and ordered him not to talk about the death. Not the name of the victim or what he saw. “Lie,” she directed. “Tell them you were too nervous to get close and see a body. You can say he was from out of town and his friends are upset. No more than that.” He’d agreed, but she’d seen his chest puff up with importance as they walked past the spectators.

Please keep it quiet.

If word got out that the A-list actor had died in their tiny town, it’d become a zoo.

She had led Josh to the tiny conference room while Zane interviewed Toby. Spider and Brandon waited out by Sheila’s desk. The office manager had tried to get the boy to smile with a gigantic cinnamon roll from Nell’s. But Brandon had just stared at it, as if he wondered whether the plate-size roll was actual food. Spider had politely accepted it. Stevie had noticed that Spider’s eyes looked exactly like Chase Ryan’s, but other than that and the hair, which was the same color, the brothers were very different. Where Chase was Hollywood sexy, Spider was awkwardly tall and seemed uncertain how to coordinate his long limbs.

Stevie had felt the same way in junior high when her height rocketed five inches in nine months. But she’d grown into it. Spider seemed continually surprised at how far away his hands and feet were.

She focused on the man in front of her. Josh Black was thirty. He was Chase Ryan’s manager, and Toby was his younger brother. The two sets of brothers had been friends since grade school and had camped at Crying Indian every summer for the last three years.

“Does Brandon always come?” Stevie asked.

“Yes. He’s our mascot. The rest of the year he lives in Portland with his mother, so this trip is one of the few times we get to see him.”

“His parents aren’t married?”

“No. It didn’t work out.” He shifted in his chair and grimaced. “My girlfriend’s pregnant. We haven’t decided if we’ll get married.” He met Stevie’s gaze. “Believe it or not, Hollywood is a hard life. We’re always on the move and there’s no stability.”

“I can understand that Chase would be busy with filming all the time, but you other three guys work for him, right? Is it really so busy that you can’t have a family?”

“It’s a different world.”

Stevie let the silence stretch between them, but Josh didn’t jump in to fill it. He simply looked at her. Visions of the TV show Entourage filled her head. Drinking, partying, women.

“You’re Chase’s manager. What exactly do you do?”

“Everything Chase doesn’t want to do. He hates the business side of acting and trusts me to make decisions for him. Or to bring the important ones to his attention and give my advice.”

“Do you handle his money?”

“Not really. We have a team of accountants and investment guys who do that. But I’m the one who talks to them. Chase doesn’t want anything to do with it. He’s asked me to keep him apprised of any big changes. That’s it.”

“Tell me about last evening. What did everyone do?”

Josh took a deep breath. “We roasted hot dogs for dinner. Then marshmallows. The four of us sat around the fire and drank beer until Brandon fell asleep in his chair. He was put to bed and then we sat and talked for a few more hours.”