one plus one equals murder–a Nick and Nora mystery

NORA Steele’s hopes of making a romantic connection with her date were fading fast as Kevin Ames ripped into his steak like a cave man who rarely saw meat. As red juice dribbled down his chin, she came to the sad realization that what the online dating service, One-Plus-One, had assured her was a match made in heaven was much further down the scale. Although Kevin Ames looked like a perfect match on paper—a charming, well rounded, established businessman—the man sitting across from her did not fit that profile. Despite being well dressed in an impeccable blue suit, crisp white shirt, and elegant tie, Kevin’s salty language and coarse manners seemed more suited to an army mess hall than the sophisticated Chicago Chop House.

If he had been a good conversationalist, Nora thought, she could, and would have looked past superficial flaws. But Kevin had offered little in the way of even the smallest of talk.  Nora had tossed out several conversational balls, hoping to initiate a back-and-forth discussion. If the topic interested Kevin, he pontificated at length before lapsing into silence. If he had no interest in the subject, he grunted, returned to his meal and gave her nothing to work with. Nora was running out of inspiration. She was ready to call this particular match a wash.

By the time dessert and coffee arrived, her head was aching; her stomach too rocky to be tempted by the chocolate mousse the waiter set down in front of her. Kevin slurped up his serving in seconds.

She excused herself and went to the ladies room. When she returned, he had just finished her untouched mousse. A faint ring of chocolate circled his mouth. She remained standing. 

“Thank you for this wonderful dinner, Kevin, but if you don’t mind, I’m going to have to call it a night. My head is throbbing.”

His face reddened, his eyes grew stone cold. Wiping his mouth with the white linen napkin, he put it down beside his dish, and smiled. It was more a grimace than a smile. “Nora, sweet. The night is young. Can’t I tempt you to stay longer? I planned to take you dancing after dinner.”

Although his voice was seductively husky, his eyes glittered like cold steel.

“Sorry, Kevin. I’ve had it for tonight. Really.”

He stared at her for several moments, as if gauging her intent. At last, he threw several large denomination bills on the table, pushed his chair back with deliberation, and rose.

She had to admit he cut an impressive figure; as long as he wasn’t eating or talking… 

She made a decision. Not only would she cross this prospect off her dating list, she would terminate her association with One-Plus-One. If it meant she remained single the rest of her life, then so be it.

What she could not know was that within hours of their date, Kevin Ames would be found in a dark alley, brutally murdered. 

Thought I’d preview my new story here. Does it grab you? Bore you? anything in between? I’d appreciate comments, suggestions, likes, dislikes…? Have at it.

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