- Author: Charles Royce
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By Charles Royce
Chutter Hill Publishing
Copyright © 2021 by Chutter Hill Publishing
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This novel, Transparency, is the second book of a trilogy. The first book, Naive, offers background on the murder alluded to throughout the first few chapters, while the finale, Sync, will bring all stories to a climactic end.
This edition of Transparency copyright © 2021 by Chutter Hill Publishing
Edited by Jamie Chavez.
Excerpt from Sync copyright © 2021 by Chutter Hill Publishing
Published in the United States of America.
Names: Royce, Charles, author
Title: Transparency, a novel / by Charles Royce
This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book Sync by Charles Royce. This excerpt has been written for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the upcoming edition.
For my mother,
who I miss every single day.
GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT TO:
To Matt Moran, my confidant, my friend. Always encouraging me to dream higher, reach for the impossible. Watching you do the same is a constant source of inspiration for me and so many others.
To Ruben and Tim, your positivity and creative drive make me want to do more, be more.
To my beautiful partner of seven (!) years now. Chris, you are my safe space, my rock. I love you more than you will ever know.
To the people of New York City. My life was forever changed there, and I’m still enjoying the fruits of your labor. I will never forget the beautiful people who showed me a better way of life.
To my editor and friend Jamie Chavez. Your tireless efforts are all over this trilogy. I don’t know what I’d do without you (and the margin notes). Here’s to many more!
C h a p t e r 1
“BABY, BABY, WAKE up.”
“What? What is it?” Micah’s eyes open to darkness. He feels a hand squeezing his. “What’s happening?”
Lennox squeezes tighter. “There’s someone in the house.”
Micah looks around, to his left, to his right. He can’t distinguish shapes. Or color. He blinks. His sight moves in and out of focus, the emptiness of his surroundings flickering like glitches. Suddenly he sees a muscular male silhouette coming toward their bed. The figure is translucent, outlined in light, pulsing and glowing as it moves.
The man holds up a knife and thrusts forward.
“No!” Micah screams.
He can feel Lennox’s hand begin to crush his own.
The ominous figure continues to jab.
“No! Noo! Nooo!”
THE SOUND OF his own cries awakens him. Micah reaches for his husband’s hand, slapping at the sheets with the back of the palm. No one is there.
He wipes his eyes, his abs contracting as he leans forward. He looks around the bedroom of their condo—the New York Post lying on his nightstand, headline reading “KILLER STILL FREE?” with a giant photo of himself superimposed on another of Lennox lying dead and butchered on their living room floor; photos of the two of them in 5x7 frames resting facedown on the dresser; the floor-to-ceiling windows inviting a distraction from his nightmare.
Completely naked except for his woolen socks, he walks to the far window and looks out onto early morning Manhattan. The Lower East Side is beginning to bustle with movement. As the church bell tower rings seven times, he hears children screaming as he watches them prance their way to PS 001; businessmen and women ducking into Ubers and limousines; the ladies of Chinatown in identical poses, in various puffy coats, easing into their morning tai chi.
Life is continuing, even in the dead of winter.
His eyes shift to Jenna’s condo building, the rubble still strewn about the street, police tape expanding about thirty feet around the destruction. Micah takes his fingers to his wavy blond hair and throws it back in place like a whiskey shot.
Even from a distance, he locks eyes with a man walking in front of Jenna’s building—dirty blond hair, crew cut, handsome from what he can tell. He thinks he recognizes him and tracks him with a prolonged stare. The man immediately looks away, continues walking.
Micah unplugs his phone from the charger.
C h a p t e r 2
“HAYLEE, THANK YOU,” Micah says. “Thank you for calling me back.”
“Sorry I missed you earlier,” she says. “This morning sickness has been a little overwhelming. Shawn had to literally pick me up from the bathroom floor not twenty minutes ago.”
“God, that must be awful.”
“What’s the matter, hon? You sounded a bit frantic on your message. How are you holding up?”
“I can imagine.”
“Had the strangest dream. Lennox was still alive.”
“It must be awful for you being back there. All those memories.”
“It’s worse than I thought,” he says. “Sorry if I’m bothering you.”
“Not at all. Shawn just left, and I was just about to get ready for—” She clicks her tongue. “Heyyy, I was going to have to go by myself to my doctor’s appointment, you wanna come with? Please? It’ll give us a chance to talk.”
“I could use the company.” Micah looks out of the window again.
“Me too. First appointment since I found out I was preggo. Just a checkup, but still.”
“I get it. I’d love to.”
“Thank you, it’s at nine a.m., here in Brooklyn. Meet me here at the house a little earlier?”
“What is it, 7:30 now?” He checks his phone. “Yep. I’ll hop in the shower, take the F. I’ll be at your place in an hour, tops.”
“God, I love you,” she says.
C h a p t e r 3
“GOD, NOT THE brick again.”
Shawn Connelly is familiar with this place. Just a few short months ago he’d been introduced to the NYPD Seventh District Precinct building after his best friend Lennox was stabbed to death in his home. He remembers walking up these steps to meet with Lennox’s husband Micah, shortly after he was arrested