The Love Killings (Detective Matt Jones #2)@Robert Ellis

CHAPTER 1

Matthew Trevor Jones wanted to kill his father . . .

He had been thinking about it every day for the past six weeks of his recovery, just as he was thinking about it now at 2:00 a.m.

Like most nights since the shooting, he had trouble getting to sleep. But tonight he had a reason more palpable than the pain echoing from his wounds or even the ghosts and demons making their late-night visit to his bed.

He was sitting outside on the back deck, keeping an eye on the wildfire climbing up the hill on the south side of Potrero Canyon Park. Firefighters were on the ground, driving the wall of flames upward, while a second crew was on top of the ridge, protecting the homes and pelting the foliage with water the City of Angels could hardly spare.

Holy water. That’s all the city had left these days.

On a clear night, Matt’s small home on the north peak provided a view that stretched from Santa Monica and Venice Beach all the way east across the basin to the tall buildings downtown. Tonight, the smoke was too thick to see through, just a mushroom cloud billowing into a sky without stars or planets or even a moon.

He looked back at the fire, still thinking about killing his father. He knew in his heart that it was the right thing to do—the only thing to do—and that the longer he waited, the greater the chance his father would hire another lowlife like the late Billy Casper to put a bullet in his head.

Although Matt had kept what he learned about his father’s intentions to himself and filed it away as “personal business,” although Matt had appeared to be cooperating with the detectives investigating his case, in the end he told them nothing because he didn’t need to. The name Billy Casper turned out to be a dead end, a false identity that remained a mystery. Matt knew for a fact that his father had hired the man to kill him. And in a bad moment, a moment when Matt’s guard had shut down, Casper almost succeeded with that worn-out .38 of his.

The memory lingered for a moment before Matt pushed it away. It was still too close. Still too painful. Almost yesterday.

He took a swig of beer, the bottle somehow managing to hold its chill. It was the first day of December, still over ninety degrees in the middle of the night, with an endless forecast of blue skies, oppressive heat, and solemn warnings by TV weather people about something they were now calling photochemical smog: a lethal combination of sunlight and exhaust rising from the freeways that smelled like spent jet fuel and didn’t do much for anybody’s lungs. There was a time, just five years ago, when Matt could actually detect four seasons in Los Angeles. They were subtle, but they were there. Now there was only one season. Wildfire season—mixed with the Santa Ana winds smacking him in the face with dust and sand and saturating his clothing with the smell of burned-down houses and lost dreams.

Paradise redux.

Matt took another swig from the bottle and laughed. It would take more than an endless summer and block after block of dead lawns to sour his mood.

He loved this city. He loved everything about it. LA was the only place he had ever lived where he could feel an actual pulse. He didn’t understand where it came from. All he knew was that when he woke up every morning, he could sense its presence. In his chest, his being, in everything he touched, heard, or looked at.

And that’s why when he killed his father, when he shot the man dead, he couldn’t afford to get caught. His plan, his method, every detail would have to be thought out. Every move, perfectly planned.

Dear old Dad, the King of Wall Street.

A man who lived for appearances’ sake, and couldn’t afford to let his secret out. His truth. A man who abandoned his young wife and son and knew that if anyone found out now, his reputation would be tainted forever. M. Trevor Jones—chairman, president, and CEO of PSF Bank of New York, one of the five largest banks in the United States.

Matt’s cell phone started vibrating. Digging it out of his pocket, he knew that at this hour the caller could be only one of two people. As he read his new supervisor’s name on the face, Lt. Howard McKensie from Hollywood Homicide, his