Somebody to Hold (Tyler Jamison #2) - April Wilson

Chapter 1

Tyler Jamison

At six o’clock, I shut off my PC and lock up my office. It’s time to head home. This sense of anticipation I feel is relatively new for me. I’ve never been so eager to go home because I never had anyone to go home to—just a dark, empty condo awaited me. Now that I’m sharing my boyfriend’s townhouse, I feel like I have a real home. It’s not just the place I hang my holster and gun every evening after a long day of hunting murder suspects.

Tonight’s special because it’s date night—Ian’s exact words.

“Don’t be late, Tyler,” he told me this morning. “Dinner is at six-thirty.”

I’m not sure how eating dinner together at home constitutes a date, but apparently it does. And I’m not about to argue the point. Ian’s been texting me reminders all day, and just thinking about his eagerness puts a smile on my face. Whatever makes him happy, makes me happy.

They say opposites attract. Well, it’s definitely true in our case. Ian and I couldn’t be more different—and yet it works for us. I’m the stoic, brooding, controlling type, while Ian is life and energy and emotion bubbling over. Whereas I’m a glass-half-empty kind of guy, his cup runneth over. My favorite color is any shade of black—hence the lack of variety in my wardrobe—while Ian wears the colors of the rainbow.

We’re like yin and yang, two contrary forces that complement each other perfectly.

As I’m nearing the exit to our Gold Coast neighborhood in Chicago, my phone rings. I glance at the screen and see that my station captain is calling. Damn it. There’s only one reason Jud Walker would call me after regular work hours—to assign me a new case.

I accept the call. “Hello, boss.”

“Tyler. You’re needed in Rogers Park. We just received report of a body discovered in the alley between Murphy and Irwin. Victim is a Caucasian female, early twenties. Cause of death appears to be blunt force trauma to the back of the head.”

And just like that, this evening’s dinner plans evaporate. “I’m on my way,” I say with a resigned sigh.

I call Ian to tell him the bad news.

“Hey, babe,” he says. “Are you on your way home?”

“I was.”

“Oh.” I can hear the disappointment in his voice, but he doesn’t give voice to it. He knows my job has erratic hours, and he’s not one to complain.

“Yeah. Walker just assigned me a new case, and I have to head to the scene. I’m afraid it’ll be a while before I can make it home. I’m sorry, baby.”

“It’s okay. Duty calls, right?”

“I’ll be home as soon as I can, I promise.”

“Be safe, and I’ll see you tonight.”

After we say our goodbyes, I turn on my flashing lights, make a U-turn, and head back toward Rogers Park.

Even though my evening plans haven’t worked out the way I thought they would, it still feels pretty damn good that I have someone in my life who cares whether or not I make it home.

* * *

I arrive at the scene and park next to the two units already on site. When I get out of my car, I nod at the familiar face of the officer standing at the mouth of the alley. “Hi, Phil.”

“Hey, Tyler.” Phil Ingrams nods down the alley. “The victim’s down there, just past the dumpster. Clements is with the body.”

As I walk down the narrow alley, stepping over puddles of questionable origin, I mentally block out the cloying odors of human excrement and rancid trash. As I approach Officer Clements, my pulse picks up and I automatically switch into homicide detective mode. I’ve been doing this job—investigating murders—for well over a decade now, and it still rattles me to come upon a murder victim. A life cut short is always a tragedy, but in this case, it’s a life ended far too soon.

Ray Clements, looking as gray and grizzly as usual, nods curtly as I approach. “Tyler.”

“Hello, Ray.”

He shines a flashlight on the victim, who’s lying face down on the pavement. Her long blonde hair is matted with grime and blood. The likely cause of death is readily apparent—the back of her head is caved in. There’s a splattering of blood and gore on the brick wall behind us. It looks like someone slammed her head against the building.

Based on the state of her body—and the lack of fresh blood—I’d guess she died sometime late last night.

“Who found the body?” I ask Clements.

He nods to the rear exit