Murder on the East China Sea

Chapter One

Trying to help Eugene Garboski get comfortable around women turned out to be murder. And I was the most likely victim if my wife caught a whiff of the perfume my half-naked seat mate was rubbing all over me. Every time the front door opened my body snapped eyes right to see who’d spotted me.

“Damn, Connor Pierce! You’re like catnip for strippers,” Garboski yelled over the raucous dance pulse. Bulging eyes glistening with anticipation, he had stuffed his large frame inside an individualized booth along the strip club wall. Shallow breaths and strobe lights gave him the look of a twelve-year-old with his first Playboy.

Cigarette smoke from behind wrapped my shoulders, encircling the Filipino dancer’s neck. Her lithe and nearly naked body felt as smooth as the finest suede. 

“Invite one over.” I nodded toward a pair of silken-haired bar girls serving the military crowd overpriced beer.

G cocked his head in a pseudo laugh, turning to gawk at the exhibition on stage.

The woman in my lap pressed her hot cheek against mine. 

I groaned. Her sexual hunger tugged with tortuous insistence against the sex I was missing at home. 

Slender fingers traced the outline of that desire in my khakis.

I caught her smooth, perfect wrist, pressing my mouth against its curve. The narcotic scent of jasmine raced to my brain stem. Impulse pushed my forehead into her fingertips.

Well-trained digits tantalized my hairline. Almond eyes lured me into the pulsing blast of neon. 

Someone opened the door, muting Foreigner’s crushing backbeat. A patron glared with one eye at the intrusion. The runway dancer, equally luscious and petite, slipped her bra free revealing athletic breasts.

Electric bubbles churned in my groin. I closed my eyes. An unbidden image of Nansi’s angry face popped them open, shoving me backward an inch. 

The girl’s expression broadened with uncertainty, exposing youthful angst. She leaned in to kiss.

I turned. My lips grazed her ear, silky black hair painting lust across my cheekbone.  “Go see my friend.” I eased her from my lap. 

Fire ignited her irises.

I smiled as I raised a forearm to block those perfectly manicured nails.

“G I gaijin,” she snapped, mimicking the language of the locals. She winked before gliding toward Garboski’s slumped form. He came alive and slipped his giant arm around her. 

I slapped his raised palm. Regret stung. A long pull on my five-dollar beer cooled it. Clouds of smoke amplified the stripper doing cartwheels on the inadequate runway. 

Shimmying flips in a hot pink g-string accentuated hard sinews. Maybe dancing for soldiers, like war in the desert, cured skin into leather.

Whatever. It didn’t hinder her fluidly executed cartwheel. She ended split legs, scoring a round of applause from the mix of Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine enlisted. Sergeant Falkney always said, only two places you’d find them together and peaceful—strip bars and battlefields.

I chuckled.

She spun, a human gyroscope, lifting herself into a naked handstand, silken hair cascading over her angelic face.

The men roared. Dollars showered her. Twirling onto her feet, she scooped bills under petite breasts with the dignity of a Wall Street Banker as she trotted offstage.

The vulnerable moment stirred a minor chord in me. 

Foreigner ended and ACDC thrashed out a highway for the next girl. The front door opened. A Security Police poked his Air Force blue beret inside.

I tucked my chin, reaching for Garboski.

My friend was gone. So was our girl. Slipped away while I was ogling the stage.

A glance suggested the SP chose to keep the peace by remaining out of sight. A handful of patrons were certainly AWOL from a barracks’ lockdown. My legs primed to find G, likely with his pants around his ankles, and drag him home screaming at my paranoia.

Someone grabbed my shoulder. My heart hit my rib cage. I jacked my elbow over the booth.

“Whoa, Cowboy!” A grinning kid with a Marine high-and-tight caught the projectile before it cracked his nose. 

“Sorry, dude.” I relaxed and lifted my beer. “Too many longnecks.”

He scooted forward, unable to hear over thumping bass and screaming guitars. “You catch that MP?”

It took me two bars of lead guitar to make the connection. The kid was a Marine. Theirs were Military Policemen not Security Policemen. “Ah. The SP.” I nodded. “Blue beret.” 

“Copping a peek?” He flashed perfect white teeth at his joke, completely ignoring my observation.

I snorted. “Hard to tell since that school girl.”

High-and-tight nodded, dropping his jaw. “Yeah.” His eyes darkened to a spooky gray. “Three American’s wasn’t it?”

“GI’s.”

“Only fourteen fucking years old.” He slammed his throat full of beer. His large Adam’s apple pumped it down in one rotation. “Bastards.”

I glanced at the entrance. “Weird seeing a cop out here.” 

“That’s what brought me,” the youngster said.

I scowled.

The kid curled his lip. “What the hell, dude? I’m no narc.”

I blinked and shook the smoky burn out of my eyes. “No, no, man. Sorry. A little nervous is all.” Deciding on a half truth, I flashed my wedding band. “Feels strange being in a strip bar.” My thumb poked at Garboski. “Buddy needed a wingman.”

He smirked. “Yeah. Well I wouldn’t cheat on my girl.”

Shame wrapped me up like a feather boa. “I’m sure you’re a stand-up guy.” Anger puffed my chest. “I’m here for the cheap beers and colorful music.”

Devil Dog inflated his shoulders. Gripping the bottle up high, he took a pull. When the glass bottom settled on the table, his endearing smile had returned. “No trouble, Cowboy. Just saying.” He leaned close. “My girl back home, someone raped her. Couldn’t take a man after. I joined the Corps to keep from losing my poop.”

“Awe, shit.” Embarrassment crawled over my skull.  

“Don’t wilt, bud. Not your story.”

“Sorry to hear it though. Damn disgrace.”

High-and-tight hoisted his beer. “Might be too many gets me running my mouth.”

We clinked bottles. Confessing my fear of Sharon’s lawman husband crept toward my lips.

A victorious whoop at my ear blasted it into hiding. 

Arching backwards, I twisted to belt the offensive idiot.

Garboski’s huge face grinned at me. “She was awesome.” He sighed a full breath and sank into his booth with the deflation of a balloon.

“Jackass,” I shouted. The Marine was standing when I turned to apologize.

“Head,” his lips told me before he scuttled toward the back.

A glance at my watch shocked me sober. I spun to grab Garboski. 

“What the fuck!” G shouted before I could latch on. His hands fondled his chest through his torn open shirt front.

“Dude? She turn you into a public sex freak?”

“She stole my sister’s medallion!” he shrieked, eyes as wide as Quentin’s after he’d peed his pants on a school field trip.

“That engraved piece?”

He nodded robotically.

“You just left it in your room, you knucklehead.” 

“The little wench led me back there by its chain.” 

“How the hell could she get the damn thing over your thick head?” 

“Fuck you, C-man. You never have to work a lick for a chick.” 

“Shit.” The rear of the club was muddied by a cloud of cigarette smoke. My head told me to run. My heart poured lead into my boots. Resignation leaked out with a sigh. “All right, buddy. Move your ass. Let’s go get it.”

Garboski had his feet under him when my Marine friend pressed himself into our mission. “What’s up?”

“Dancer stole his necklace. Gift from his sister,” I said. “We’re going back.” I nodded the way he’d come. “Join the party?” 

“Sure.” His grin declared a battle cry.

“Let’s—”

A scream reverberated above the clamor. Shouts in Japanese and Tagalog silenced it. The music stopped. An American voice yelled, “Somebody killed a dancer!”

My hackles leaped to attention. Grabbing my partner by his shirt buttons, I dragged him toward the door. “Sorry, bud,” I hollered at the confused Marine. “Gotta run.”

Garboski tugged against me.

I yanked his monster frame close. “G! We have to get the hell out. Nansi finds out I was in a titty bar, she’ll have my balls.”

✿✿✿

This concludes the first chapter of Murder on the East China Sea

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Reviews: 

Murder on the East China Sea

Praise for Murder on the East China Sea

Five Stars: Helping out his assistant with women gets Conor in a whole lot of trouble…with everyone!

November 4, 2018

Bev

Accolades for Murder on the East China Sea

Four Stars: Good paced thriller.

November 6, 2018

Clau

Put This Book In Your Library

Murder on the East China Sea

A prequel to the nastalgic Connor Pierce domestic malice mystery.
1995. USAF nuckle-buster Connor Pierce’s favorite pal gets tagged in the brutal murder of a local stripper. A boys’ night out forces Connor into a murder investigation.
A story of murder, sexual betrayal and redemption.

Read Murder of the Prodigal Father

Reviews:

 Murder of the Prodigal Father

Praise for Murder of the Prodigal Father

Five Stars: Murder, family betrayal, and sexual betrayal. A great mystery.

July 18, 2018

Bev

Accolades for Murder of the Prodigal Father

Four Stars: People have secrets better left alone!?!

August 13, 2018

Luna Tune

Another compliment for Murder of the Prodigal Father

Five Stars: Engrossing

August 28, 2018

Slow start but not for long. I was then pulled into this mystery with an edge of my seat action story. I enjoyed the entire story and the story kept me guessing until the end.

Patricia E.

Nice words for Murder of the Prodigal Father

Four Stars: Surprise at the end.

August 29, 2018

Bobbie b.

Applause for Murder of the Prodigal Father

Four Stars: A Puzzling Death…

July 21, 2018

Jill B.

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