Come Twilight (Long Beach Homicide #4) - Tyler Dilts



Thirty-one hours before my car exploded, I was at Julia’s condo on the Promenade downtown. I still hadn’t gotten used to spending so much time in a place that once would have made me uncomfortable in its luxury, but Julia made it feel like home.

It was a Thursday night and we were getting an early start on a weekend-long Downton Abbey binge. She’d been wanting to watch it for a while but hadn’t ever managed to make the time. I’d never seen it because it was Downton Abbey.

We were three and a half episodes in when my phone rang. I was next up in the homicide rotation, so that meant I was on call. There was an apparent suicide in Belmont Heights.

I told Julia that I had to go to work. I’d been a homicide detective for nearly a decade, and she’d been a social worker for several years before she became a photographer, so she had some understanding of my job. But she still wasn’t quite used to death being so ever-present in my life, and I could see the sadness in her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” I said as I got up. “Why don’t you go ahead and keep watching.”

“You don’t like it?” she asked, surprised.

“No, I do.” It pained me to admit it, but I did.

“Then I’ll wait for you.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said, glad she’d offered. I would have made the request myself, but I wasn’t sure if we’d reached the point in our relationship when it was appropriate to ask her not to watch something without me.

The last time I’d been called out while staying at Julia’s, I’d needed to go home to get a fresh suit. When I told her about it later, she suggested I leave a spare in her closet. So the charcoal Men’s Wearhouse special that was number five in my work rotation was waiting for me. After a quick shower, I brushed my teeth and dressed.

She handed me a travel mug filled with fresh coffee when I went back into the living room.

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ll probably be all night.”

“I know, Danny.”

“I should still be able to make tomorrow night, though.” Julia had a few photographs in a show at a small gallery in the East Village. We’d planned on dinner after the Friday-evening opening.

She kissed me good-bye and I looked into her green eyes, crinkling at the corners with her smile, and I touched the single dimple in her left cheek. For the first time in years, I would rather not have gone to work.

When I started my Camry and drove out of the parking garage, something didn’t sound right. The engine was running rough and the car seemed sluggish. I drove for a block and decided I could probably make it to the crime scene. It was only two and a half miles. I felt a twinge of the chronic pain in my wrist creeping up my arm.

When I got there, my partner, Jennifer Tanaka, was already waiting.

“That was quick,” she said. “I thought you were going to be at Julia’s tonight.”

“Just came from there,” I said.

She looked at what I was wearing. “Fresh suit.”


“You have that in your car?”


She raised her eyebrows and smiled.

A little before nine, someone had reported a gunshot. Because it was a slow night, a patrol unit arrived less than ten minutes later. The responding officers investigated and found the body.

The crime scene was in an eight-unit apartment building near the corner of Belmont Avenue and Second Street. It was one of the old, well-maintained, pre-WWII buildings that were in high demand on Long Beach’s booming rental market.

“The call came from a woman upstairs in the back,” the uniform told me on the sidewalk. “She said she only called because the noise sounded like it came from the apartment below her, number six.”

I looked at the building. There were four units in front—two on the first floor, two on the second. Probably two bedrooms each. “Four apartments in front, four in back?”

“Two in back, two over the garage.” He looked curious. “How’d you know how many?”

I pointed at the mailboxes. They were numbered one through eight. Number six had a small label beneath it that read “MANAGER.” He nodded.

“You talk to any of the other neighbors?”

He gestured toward the lower-left door. “The couple in this one asked what was going on.”

“What did you tell them?”

“Just that we had a crime scene and were investigating.”

“Good,” I said.

He walked me along the south side of the building