FRAMED: Episode 6, "Talk About a Merry Christmas!"


Austin hadn’t laid eyes on Danny since he first crashed at his place last week. His buddy had been on the graveyard shift for seven days straight so the two missed each other coming and going to work. Not like Austin had a lot to report. The art store’s owner, Pinkie, was nothing if not quirky, but he hadn’t witnessed anything illegal going on.  Blake kept his head down and his hand on a paintbrush, and the other two cons rumored to grace the art studio, from what he’d observed that was just that—rumor.  He’d begun to think his friend lost his knack to do detective work in this sleepy little town.
Austin parked his truck beside Violet’s car in the back alley. He’d hardly slept last night thinking about their kiss. Violet letting her guard down and laying one on him was most pleasantly unexpected. There was no denying the chemistry between them, but finding chemistry with a woman had never been his problem. Keeping one, on the other hand, had proven impossible. And what was up between her and Danny? Did the two have something still? Hell, what did it matter? No matter who Violet was or wasn’t dating, she was still off limits. Nothing killed a fresh relationship like disappearing for a month at a time when he was undercover. The minute he took a contract job for his month off from the academy and couldn’t tell her what he was doing or where he was going for fear of his cover being blown, she’d balk. They always did. One ex had accused him of having a wife while another had been certain he’d had an overseas romance. He did have a romance that sometimes took him overseas, but it wasn’t with a woman. It was work. He loved the thrill of detective work more than any woman he’d ever had the chance to settle with. But he also loved the steadiness of the academy. Just when he itched to go again, a teaching session ended. Best of both worlds.
But on jobs like this, the only thing rousing about Blossomville was a broken-armed frame shop owner who’d used her good hand to pull him in for a kiss that made his groin groan. He could only imagine what she could do with two good hands. He’d seen some of the projects she’d framed before her accident. She was good with her hands. If he wanted to get through the day he needed to stop thinking about her hands and her lips. Aside from the fact that this sting was about the most boring undercover job he’d ever had, he still had a job to do. Two jobs actually, and he’d given his word. He would finish all the framing work and continue his work to uncover a drug operation he wasn’t one hundred percent sure was going down.
Austin walked around the side of the building toward Cup of Bliss. Cop cars lined the sidewalk, their sirens off, but a few boys in blue stood by the corner across the street. He caught a glimpse of Danny and a silent nod passed between them. The strong aroma of coffee beans permeated the air as he stepped inside the shop. Besides a few people sitting in booths, working on their computers, the place was empty.

Read the entire installment in the February 2020 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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