Readers who’ve followed Erin O’Quinn’s *Nevada Highlander series may remember a certain constable from the most recent novel **Sleeping with Danger…a tousle-haired young man named Aidan Williamson out of Ballater’s small Police Scotland office.
I keep wondering about Aidan… Why does a Scot have a name like Williamson? What keeps a vigorous, inquisitive young man behind a desk in a tiny hamlet in the Highlands? Was he telling Rory the truth when he admitted to loving his unnamed mate—and if so, who’s the lucky partner? Male, or female?
Recently I sat at my keyboard and began to wonder with my fingers. Here’s the result: about 800 words of a new work. Novel, or novella? Not sure. Probably a novella, with a new love interest who may (or may not) show up in another book. We’ll see.
Here’s a make-believe promo, using models whose images I’ll need to purchase if I decide to use them.
Pain rode like a surly hitch-hiker in the small of his back.
Aidan leaned back in the creaky swivel chair, his long legs crossed on the splintered desk, trying to ease a distant ache.
Almost five o’clock. Time for the night shift to appear in the form of Michael Murphy. He lifted his reluctant feet off the scarred surface, careful not to scrape the shine off his PS-issued brogans, pretending he wasn’t bored to fucking death and in desperate need of a cigar and a bed, in any order at all.
His reports were complete. Check. He’d scanned the latest Police Scotland bulletins on his desktop computer. Check. He’d gone to the rescue of a tabby cat on a roof and an elderly man who’d lost his way in Ballater’s only bus station. Check. He’d answered the phone fifty times, at least, and only half of them wrong numbers.
He tried not to think about the four walls waiting for him in his bland flat, or saying goodbye to Justin. Not “see you later,” or “be good, man.” Saying goodbye, farewell, sayonara.
The parting had been a year in the making. Justin’s work day getting longer…his own shift needing more scrupulous attention…their days off never seeming to coincide…their sex life as routine as the Ballater Community W.A.T.C.H. he wrote up each week for the website.
We Are The Community Helpers.
So. Justin was now a clerk in the Aberdeen office of the Regional Judge.
He sighed. Not exactly a life filled with excitement and danger, like his own—the thrill-a-minute existence of an underpaid Sergeant Constable in the tiny Ballater office of Police Scotland.
At the sound of a vehicle pulling into the cramped concrete parking lot, he stood and pretended to scan the bulletins pinned to the cork board. Lost pets, alerts on suspected stalkers, a lonely man reported lurking in petrol stations, reminders to report any sighting of a 2009 gray grocery getter, commendations of model citizens, and even a few random constables in other towns who’d earned a promotion…
He turned to greet his office mate, and found another man altogether.
Chief Inspector Grant McDowell was no longer young, but he was a match for any officer on the force. Aidan didn’t know him, except to stand straighter and make eye contact on the few occasions their paths had crossed—one commemorative dinner, two funerals, and a parking lot somewhere, maybe a year ago.
It was either a talent or a curse that Aiden could read character in someone’s eyes and body language. That hidden skill had served him well during the four years he’d toiled for Police Scotland. It had won a few friends…he thought about his ex, of course, and his recent acquaintance with the faux-Constables Alex and Rory…and the same ability had also earned more than his share of arrests.
Even with his cap under his arm, the inspector stood over six feet, a shade under his own height. The sandy-gray hair, worn straight back from his forehead, lent him an almost leonine air, a feral animal trapped in a cage. His eyes, pale blue, hinted at an ancestry well beyond the Highlands and Islands. Behind the black-rimmed glasses they were steel-hard, intelligent, restless, hungry…
McDowell didn’t wait for Aidan to approach him. He strode the few paces to the bulletin board and held out his bear’s paw of a hand.
“Sergeant Williamson. Nice to see you again.”
Since his superior had chosen to see him here, in his own tiny office late on a Friday afternoon, Aidan ungraciously thought it was hardly nice, but a surprise nonetheless. He liked McDowell, but he hated rude awakenings.
What had he done wrong?
Fuck, Aidan, think positive. What have you done right?
He shook the proffered hand and smiled with his mouth and his eyes too. The man’s grasp was strong and honest.
“The pleasure is mine, sir. Um, have a seat? Or…”
“Or not, Sergeant. I’ve come to whisk you away for an hour, tops. Your second-shift man Murphy should be here—” he glanced at his watch—“any minute now.”
How did someone from the echelons of power know the name of his five-to-dawn partner? He’d done his homework, obviously. “Yes, sir. So you want to…”
“To take you somewhere with a bar top and a nodding acquaintance with a wee dram. Know any place close by?” The ironic tone was not even necessary. The inspector wasn’t testing him. He already knew Aidan liked his whisky and cigar.
He grinned at the older man. “I recommend the Black Boar. Five minutes from here—but isn’t every place in Ballater?”
McDowell laughed outright. “This burg is a favorite of mine, but yes, ’tis not over-populated with pubs. I’ll meet you there in fifteen minutes.”