Chris Owen

On the Clock

97 pages / 28300 words



Cort Strang is a homicide detective called to a scene where a man has been strangled with the cord from a keyboard -- not a pretty way to die. The man who found the body, Patrick Gallagher, is pretty, though. He's also an off duty detective from Computer Crimes.  The two connect almost instantly, and as Strang gets to work on finding out what led to the death of poor Mr. Dinsmore, Gallagher never seems to be very far away.


With a wealth of computer data to wade through Strang welcomes Gallagher into his case and into his bed. Can Strang balance work and pleasure, or is his mind too divided to make either be successful?


Originally published in To Serve and Protect.

With a roll of tape that was on the shelf behind the treadmill, he stuck the pictures and his notes over the treadmill display, making sure he could still use the arrow keys to control his speed and incline; it was something a lot of the detectives did, thus the availability of the tape. That done, he got on, set himself a nice height and started to run, his eyes fixed on his case.

He wasn't sure how long he'd been at it when the two men using the weights left, or when someone got on the treadmill next to him. He was looking at Dinsmore's arm and the sheet from forensics, turning ideas over in his mind and trying to figure out how he was going to reach the anonymous people behind the usernames.

"He saved logs?"

Cort almost missed his stride as he whipped his head around to look at Gallagher, jogging beside him and looking over at his display. "What the hell are you doing here?" he demanded, not so much annoyed to see him as surprised and a little startled to be jerked out of his own headspace.

"Running." Gallagher gave him a sunny grin and picked up his speed a fraction.

Cort snorted and wiped sweat from his forehead with the hem of his T-shirt. "At damn near midnight."

"All right, I'm here because you are," Gallagher said, going as far as to wink at him.

Cort looked around the empty room. "You took a chance with that stunt at the scene, you know," he said.

"Yeah," Gallagher admitted. "I did. Paid off, though. Maybe. Interested?"

"In men in general, or in you?" Cort knew the answer, but the easy way Gallagher just seemed to be so sure of him was a bit much to take. Cort liked his men to be confident, but arrogance wasn't really a turn on, even if his body was kind of waking up.

"In me. I figure I already know you're into men, since you didn't deck me, and you knew I was flirting. Straight guys either don't even notice or they get a little panicked before politely brushing me off."

"So you hit on guys a lot." Being outgoing was good, Cort told himself. A slut was bad. And still, his body was getting a nice hit of adrenaline from the workout.

"Often enough to know a returned flirt when I get it."

"What if I tell you I'm involved with someone?" Cort asked, curious.

"I call you a liar and accept that I dragged my ass down here to get sweaty for nothing other than improved cardiovascular health."

Sometimes love is complicated. 

Copyright 2016 Chris Owen