Molly & Kendra: Kendra (books 2 of 3)

Kendra’s Story

 

Prologue:

August 2, 2009–

Pop! Pop! Pop! The sound of a tennis ball smacking against rackets. Sweat was dripping into Kendra’s eyes, making it harder to see the ball. This time she was smarter and wore waterproof mascara instead of the other stuff she normally wore. She felt good just moving around finally. After the concussion she had received at the hands of Marissa Marceno about a month ago. She had suffered from multiple headaches since then and hadn’t felt like doing too much, which was a good thing because until the last week, her doctor advised her to just take it easy and she’ll feel normal again. Kendra was getting sick and tired of looking at the walls of her home and wanted to make a few changes.

Pop! Pop! Nick wasn’t playing his best today, Kendra noticed. He was all over the place and seem to be fumbling for the ball more than he normally does. Either she was getting better or he was getting worse. She received the point for that. He walked back to the serving position with his hands on his hips. Sweat poured off his forehead and his black curly hair was soaked.

Ready to quit old man?” She teased.

Nope,” he whipped off his light blue shirt and tossed it behind him on the ground.

Bugger, she thought. Distracting her with his chiseled chest and arms. Not to mention the strong bunching of muscles in his back. She had always had a strange fascination on strong backs. She had her bikini top on underneath her black tennis shirt and was tempted to do the same thing.

She tossed the ball up and sent it sailing over the net, Nick returned it perfectly, making Kendra run for it. The sun was starting to set and they had the court booked for another ten minutes. The ball flew back and forth between them until he smacked the ball so hard, that Kendra ducked, or else it was going to hit her in the face.

Sorry,” he called. She looked up and he actually looked sorry.

Well he was good at faking things, so he would be. Kendra reached for the bottom of her shirt, turned her back on him and whipped it off, tossing it on to her gym bag. She turned around and he looked like he was surprised. “Not a problem, it happens.”

Kendra.” It wasn’t a question or the beginning of a statement. He just said her name.

Nick.”

He tossed down his racket on the ground and she watched him walk towards her and around the net. Kendra wasn’t all together sure what he was doing but she stood there, rigid, her racket in her right hand. Nick had this really stern look etched in his face. She thought maybe it was determination but she wasn’t sure, until he got closer. He stood just in front of her. It was lust.

Nick put his hands on her hips and pulled her flush against his body. Her skin on is his, her breasts pressed tightly against his chest. His hands slid around her to her lower back and he came in for an aggressive kiss. His mouth hot on hers. She still stood there, still as can be, in shock. Soon Kendra could feel herself softening in his arms. Her lips parted to allow him entry. His tongue slipped in immediately and explored her mouth. Kendra dropped her racket to the ground with a clank as it hit the cement. Her knees started to shake a bit, but she was so tightly wound in his arms she wasn’t going to fall.

She snaked her arms up the slippery slope of his back and held on. Her nails digging slightly into his skin. She could feel his the hard length of him against her body, and he was getting harder with every thrust of their tongues.

Nick pulled back slightly, his mouth still against hers, only softer. “I want you so bad, Kendra.”

She was breathing heavy, but once she was able she said to him, “I’m done with tennis.”

He smiled against her lips, “me too.” With a quick kiss, but hot kiss, he relentlessly let her go. Nick turned and jogged to his stuff, making Kendra’s heart quicken. She bent to pick up her racket, then turned to grab her bag that was sitting behind her at the base of the fence.

Nick couldn’t believe Kendra had just whipped her shirt off like she did. That wasn’t like her to be so bold. He couldn’t help himself, he needed to have her, and if it wasn’t for the building being tall enough that the higher units could see the entire court and the fact that they had ten minutes before the next booking, he would have taken her right there.

His stuff in his hand, he walked back to her side of the net and took her hand and together they left the court. He was finally going to be with her after the past few months. Ever since that time on her bed, soaked from the rain, he had dreamed about her every night. He slipped his arm around her as they walked to building. Her skin was slippery from sweat, just like his. And as much as he’d like a shower before getting busy with his dream woman, he found it sort of erotic.

We need to put our shirts on before going in,” he said as he let go of her to put his shirt on. “Stupid rules and all.”

Not a problem.” She put bag on the ground and slipped her black shirt over her head.

Together they walked through the lobby, at a friendly distance and he prayed he got the elevator to the third floor to himself and Kendra. He wanted to kiss her again. Lucky, the elevator was empty, and it was highly unlikely that someone on the second floor would be going up.

Kendra walked in a head of him and leaned against the wall. Her face was flush, either from the game or the sexual energy arcing between them. The doors closed and Nick swung around and kissed her. She was against the wall, but her arms wrapped around him and she excepted his kisses without hesitation. The doors opened, making it the shortest elevator ride ever. He would be lying to himself if he said he didn’t want the elevator to have broken down, leaving them inside for hot elevator sex.

He walked her down the hall, touching her as much as he could. His penis was aching, it was so hard for her. Kendra rolled her hips as she walked in front of him, occasionally sending him sexy glances over her shoulder. They got to the door and he had his keys ready in his hand. She stopped and pulled him by his shorts to her, and kissed him. Sweat rolled down from one of them between their noses.

I hate that I’m all sweaty Nick.” She stated.

Me too, but it’s sexy, doncha think?”

Mm-hm,” Kendra smiled against his mouth, as he unlocked the door, still pressed against her.

A thought took flame in his brain. “Hey, why don’t we get wet and wild in my shower?”

Nicky, I’m already wet.”

Oh, fuck he almost came in his shorts. He got the door open and she walked in, removing her top as she turned the corner into his bathroom. She leaned against the sink and took off her shoes and socks and tossed them into the hallway, as Nick did the same. All she was wearing was her tennis skirt, that was too short but never showed anything he had been dying to see. Kendra’s hands fanned out on his abdomen under his shirt, and she eased it up over his head. Nick stepped back and opened the glass doors to his stand in shower and turned the shower heads on. He had never been more thankful for multiple shower heads in his entire life. When he turned around, Kendra was naked.

Nick had wished Kendra could have stayed all night, but she had to go home to Hardy. It was impossible to leave him alone that long. But after their shower together and

a tumble in his sheets, they enjoyed some pizza together and then she had to go. It had sucked but he understood. He told her would come by in the afternoon to see her and she said she would be waiting. He never really thought that she was so sexual. Nick knew she was sexy but she really became bold in bed with him.

He parked his car on the road in front of her house, a men’s bike was parked in next to her car in the driveway. He wasn’t sure why that made him ticked off, but it did. Nick rang the door bell but knew she was outside when he didn’t even hear Hardy bark at him.

Nick turned and walked down the steps of the front porch and went to the backyard under a huge cherry blossom tree. He opened the gate and closed it and could hear two people talking. Quietly he made his way through her blossoming garden and stood out of sight.

A very tall muscular guy, with a shaved head stood blocking his view of Kendra. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and a tattoo marked the width of his shoulders, and two on each arm matched it. He had to be over six-feet tall. The guy had large ears. Nick stood and listened.

I’m just telling you to watch yourself. You get to attached sometimes KK.” The guys deep voice just irritated Nick.

I’m fine, and you worry too much.” She responded.

Nick watched them sit down. Kendra was wearing a pink string bikini, and her hair slicked back from the pool water. The big guy sat down, straddling her hips with his legs on the end of the lounger. When the guy turned to get the sunblock off the table next to him, Nick ducked down just in case.

Need more sunblock KK?” He asked.

Um…sure.”

He started to put sunblock on her shoulders, and Nick turned around and left. What the hell was going on?

Chapter 1:

Half eaten birthday cake sat in the middle of the wooden blanket box that subbed as a coffee table, in front of Kendra’s white sectional sofa. The room was dark except the glow of the television. The flicker of light bouncing off the wine glasses in the hands of Kendra and Seth Morgan. Brother and sister hanging out, doing their usual birthday tradition.

Seth was propped up on the longer side of the sofa, wine glass one-quarter full of Merlot, and Kendra cuddled up in the corner, with her glass half full of Chardonnay.

Twice a year, on each of their birthday’s, brother and sister got together to get drunk, gorge themselves on a pizza or two, and watch their favourite British comedy “Absolutely Fabulous”. Tonight was no different.

More pizza?” Kendra asked her brother.

No but I’ll take more wine,” he leaned over and held out his glass to her.

It’s my birthday, get it yourself.” She told him, then smiled.

With a huff, Seth sat up and reached for the bottle of Merlot, “if I was to eat more pizza I would be diluting the booze.”

She laughed. Kendra missed her older brother. He lived in New York City, and very rarely trekked back to Maine. His job as an editor of a high-end fashion magazine named “FAB” kept him extremely busy. Knowing her brother, he wasn’t easy to work for. Seth Morgan was particular about details, a perfectionist, and needed to be surrounded by strong people who could handle the stress of the job, and of his demands. As his sister, she often worried about his stress levels. He was in a high stress career, and her family’s history didn’t bode well for him. Seth was also the type of person who lived the motto, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”

If you were family or friends, Seth was the type of person who would go out of his way for, no questions asked. Seth often hooked up Kendra, Molly and Hailey with high-end samples, and discarded clothes and accessories from photo shoots. He even has given things to Hailey’s daughter, Megan, when he can get a hold of stuff for a twelve year-old. It was because of her brother, that she and Molly had the business.

Any exciting cases recently, Ra?” Seth asked as he leaned back on the cushions.

Kendra put her wine glass down on the table, removed the “8” candle from her “28” and cut a piece of cake. “No we were on hiatus for two weeks until tomorrow morning, to get the final details of Molly and Eli’s wedding finalized.”

It was a beautiful wedding. I’m glad I managed to wrangle that Vivian Westwood for her.” Seth smiled. He has always been proud of his handy work.

So is Molly,” she laughed. “They should be on a plane to Hawaii now.”

Lucky assholes,” he snided then laughed.

She balanced her plate on her knee, “oh whatevs, like you have never been to Hawaii.”

Seth shook his head, “actually darling sister, I have not.”

Kendra found herself surprised. She would have thought for sure her brother had been to Hawaii. He’s been to so many places, she must have lost track.

The two of the returned their focus to the television just in time to sing-a-long with the main character, Edina Monsoon, “Walking down the road, people say hello…” They looked at each other and then started laughing uncontrollably.

Nick looked up at the Grandfather’s clock which stood prominently against the west wall. The dark wood standing out in stark contrast to the white of the walls. Nick, his step-brother Aaron, and Tony, his brother-in-law, often referred to their parent’s home as the Insane Asylum.

His mother was a firm believer that colour should be in the accessories, but Nick just wished that his mother’s idea of colour was something other than beige, taupe and browns.

Catharine Dupree-Richards was dressed in a black conservative gown, and the jewelry she had on twinkled as she mingled with the guests and other members of the Boston Ladies League. The League was throwing yet another fundraiser for some charity that Nick never bothered to get the name of. Didn’t matter, he was expected at them now that he was officially unemployed.

His mother looked beautiful, classy and respectable. She took a tiny sip from her crystal champagne flute, then smiled politely as someone told a story. Beside her, in a perfectly pressed tuxedo, stood her husband. He nodded occasionally, making the light from the huge chandelier bounce off his glasses.

Tony, who was dressed in a suave suit came up and stood beside Nick, holding a champagne glass. Nick looked over at him. He could smell beer, but there was no way his mother would allow beer to be served at one of her functions. “Do you smell beer?” He asked.

Tony nodded lazily, “yep sure do, and I taste it too.” Tony took a sip, then looked at Nick, “ahhh!”

Nick nodded in admiration. “I’m impressed with your stealth.” He thought of

Kendra and her over-use of the word. He missed her. “I’d smile but then we both know that we would be hounded by the Mitzies.” Mitzies was the word that Nick, Aaron, Tony, and Tom, his step-father all called the society women.

I hear ya,” Tony looked over to his wife, Kayla. “She’s one of them now. She already starts in on me early now. Like when are you getting dressed? Or, you’re not wearing that are you? Help me Nicky.”

Sorry bro, but she’s my mother’s mini-me.” Nick stated. “Look at Mother, then look at Kayla. Now you’ve seen your future.” He laughed but Tony didn’t.

I have better things to do than stand around some charity fundraiser every weekend. Like clean the gutters. Once a month, I could handle, but not every fucking weekend.” Tony complained.

Nick looked over at his brother-in-law as he snagged some flaky pastry thing with goo inside off a passing tray, “this would be number two this weekend. You had one last night.”

Yep and apparently I can’t wear the same suit twice in one weekend. I did however notice your conspicuous absence from last nights soirée.”

I wasn’t there last night because I was at Eli’s wedding.” Nick explained.

Tony rolled his eyes, “excuses.”

Aaron walked by really quick, and Tony and Nick’s eyes followed him. “HELP ME!” He screeched. Then a petite red-headed woman ran by after their brother.

Why doesn’t he just tell her he’s gay?” Tony asked.

Because mother doesn’t know, well I shouldn’t say doesn’t know but refuses to accept.” Nick took bite of the gooey thing, it was disgusting. “She thinks it’s note excepted in today’s society circles. So every function, poor Aaron gets pawned off on a Mitzie’s single daughter.”

Glad I’m married. But how come you don’t get chased?”

I’m unemployed.”

Lucky.”

The pounding inside her head told her that eight in the morning was definitely too early for being at work, but since they had been closed for two weeks and had a back log of cases, it was her duty to start on them, and get through as many as she could before

they got too far behind. Kendra could deal with the hang-over. Hailey was already seated at her desk when Kendra walked through the front door.

With a smile and a good morning the two didn’t stand around to chat like they normally would. Both knew what a busy two weeks it was going to be while Molly and their newest partner, Eli were off on their honeymoon in Hawaii.

What do we have in terms of cases Hails?” Kendra asked as she sat down at her desk. Three piles of folders sat on her desk.

This pile,” Hailey began putting her hand on the pile on the right, “are insurance fraud cases.”

Leave those for the happy couple. Do you have anything that doesn’t require me to do math or use my brain today?”

Hailey nodded, then put her hand on the three folders in the middle pile, “sure do. This top one I think you will have done in a matter of hours. It’s an adultery case, and the husband is already positive his wife is cheating on him. He just needs photographic proof to take to his lawyers.”

If that’s all he needed why did he hire me?” Kendra wondered.

No idea but it’s money. He already paid. In cash.”

Kendra flipped through the folder and gave it a quick look, “think I’ll start here. What’s in door number three?”

Putting her hand on the pile on the left, “cases that might take more than a day, that are prioritized in order of importance. Most important on top, least on the bottom.” Hailey folder her arms across her chest. “You need some help, eh?”

Yeah I guess I do, but I think I’ll manage. If these three cases are only small ones, I can get them out of the way today and tomorrow. Then I’ll start on non-insurance pile. If I can somehow get through those, then I have no choice but to start on the Insurance ones. I just don’t want to.”

Hailey smiled, “there’s honesty for you.” Kendra smiled back at her.

Kendra stood up, grabbed her coat just after she had taken it off, and picked up her purse off of the top ledge of her post-office style desk. The desk was classic-retro style and matched her purple and black style of her office. As she glanced around there was a new picture added to the collection of Beatles, The Doors and Led Zeppelin art on the back wall. “What’s this?” Kendra walked over to the new picture.

Happy birthday, it’s from Alex, the kids and I.” Hailey bubbled with excitement at the gift she found for Kendra.

The picture was a vintage photograph of John Lennon done in an overlap of colours, and Kendra loved it. “This is amazing, I love it!” She gave Hailey a huge hug. “Thank-you so much. And please tell the kids and Alex thank-you.”

I am so glad you like it.”

Like it? Oh no honey I don’t like it,” she smiled coyly, “I love it.”

I’m so glad then. But you better get going if you want to get this case over with.” Hailey pushed the young woman who was like another sister to her out into the hallway.

By the way, the painters should be finishing up in Eli’s office today, and the furniture is scheduled for arrival tomorrow.”

I know Ken, I know. It’s on my computer schedule, but I appreciate the reminder.” Hailey stated. Kendra was out the door with a laugh.

Two hours later, Kendra walked through the front door again, her coat buttoned up tightly and in her hair was a white little hat.

Well that was fast,” greeted Hailey.

Kendra sat down on the black sofa, “you want to know why Mr. Beechum, needed me to get the picture of his wife?” Hailey nodded. “It’s because the address was a hotel, and there was no way to get a picture of them. They were on the eighteenth floor and both rooms on either side of theirs were booked.”

Did you get the photos?” Hailey asked and Kendra nodded yes. “How then?”

Kendra stood up and undid her coat. Underneath was a maids uniform, “I posed as a maid and lifted a the maid’s on the sixteenths floor master key card. I slipped in, praying they didn’t have the privacy chain on, which they didn’t. Spoke in horrible Spanish, and then snapped pictures. They were so mad that the guy jumped out of bed naked, grabbed a robe, and chased me down the hall. I couldn’t wait for the elevator so I went down eighteen flights of stairs, out a back exit and into my car.”

Hailey started laughing. Kendra could see the humour in it, except the running down all those flights of stairs.

Where are your clothes?” Hailey asked.

Found the uniform, and then took it out to my car, my clothes are in the backseat. I need to pee.” Kendra answered then walked to the back and closed the door to the washroom.

Hailey was standing outside the bathroom door with the clothes Kendra discarded in the backseat of her car. “There’s a couple out front that has a case that may trump all the other cases.”

Without changing, Kendra walked out into the lobby. A couple in their early forties stood by the window at the front. She was petite, blonde, and dressed casually, but nice. He was tall, also blonde, and wearing corduroy pants with matching jacket both in beige.

Mister and Missus Ushkowitz,” whispered Hailey.

Kendra nodded and walked over to them as Hailey took her seat at her desk, “Mr. And Mrs. Ushkowitz?”

They turned around and she realized that Mrs. Ushkowitz was a Martha Stewart look a like and Mr. Ushkowitz resembled that of a University professor. “I’m Mac and this is Barb. Ms. Morgan, we really need your help.” He said.

Kendra could see the panic in their eyes and the fact that they had a death grip on one another. Staying close. “Sure, what can I help you with?”

Our foster daughter, Vula, has gone missing.” Barb Ushkowitz began. “She’s been missing for the entire weekend.”

Have you reported her disappearance to the police?”

Barb nodded, “we called around eight-thirty on Friday, they said that she had to be missing for twenty-four hours. We thought that had changed for children.”

How old is Vula?” Kendra inquired.

She’s fourteen. Her last name is Garcia. The police said that they wouldn’t help us because she’s been known to take off before.” Mac answered.

Kendra nodded. The police were often put off by using resources for finding children who run away quite often. Usually they find excuses not to help out, forgetting that sometimes even runaways tend to get into major trouble, and that twenty-four hours is crucial. This would be a time crunch for Kendra. “I’m not sure I’m qualified for this job. It’s very crucial in the first twenty-four hours in a missing persons case. Not only am I not a police detective, it’s now harder to find her trail and retrace her steps.”

We’ll do it.”

Kendra turned around to find Nick Dupree standing there holding a bouquet of flowers in his hands and a flat wrapped thin package. “Nick, this doesn’t concern you.”

Kendra, please. We can find this girl.” Nick stated firmly. He put the flowers and

the present down on the pink coffee table.

Will you please excuse us for a moment. He doesn’t work with us.” Kendra explained. She grabbed Nick by the arm and tugged him into her office.

Nice outfit by the way.” He said placing his hands on her hips. She pulled away.

You’re a douche.”

Being a douche aside,” he began, “that family needs our help. If the girl was a runaway before, the police won’t help them at all. It’s a waste of their resources and money. That couple out there needs your help. And I can help you and them at the same time.”

You can’t.”

Bullshit, tell me why I can’t?” He demanded.

You’re not licensed as a private investigator.” Nick whipped out his wallet and handed Kendra his license. “Shit.”

HA!” He said as he snatched it back. “Give me one good reason that we shouldn’t work together to help this family?”

She stood there, looking at him. Hating him. For the life of her, she couldn’t come up with any really good reasons other than she hated him.

Chapter 2:

Nick could tell that she wasn’t happy to see him. Lately, she never was. He knew he handled the situation regarding her and her ex-boyfriend badly. He wasn’t normally a coward but there was something about Kendra that scared him a little. He just didn’t know why.

Kendra stood before him, her long hair pulled back in a bun, that ridiculous white maid’s cap still attached to her head, and the outfit she had on was a touch too small, pushing her breasts upwards and against the material. She looked fucking sexy as hell.

What do you say?” He asked.

Fine, but try not to get in my way.” Kendra started to walk around him.

Nick put his arm in the door way, stopping her. He was officially sick and tired of her attitude. “Listen up Kendra McCartney Morgan, because I have had enough, and frankly I’m tired of you punishing me. Now we are going to work together in order to find this missing girl.” His eyes bored right into hers, and he knew he finally had Kendra’s attention. “This isn’t about you and me. It’s about this missing girl. When this is over, you and I are going to sit down and hash it out. We have a narrow window to find this girl. And I hate to say this but I doubt we will find her alive, but I want to do everything in my power to make a miracle happen. So get over yourself, Kendra.”

With that said, Nick had nothing better to do than turn around on the heel of his Puma shoes, and leave her behind in the office to pull herself together professionally. As much as he cared for Kendra, a missing child trumped any problems between them.

He walked down the hallway, and headed straight to the couple clutching hands, sitting on the sofa. Hailey’s eyes were watching him closely.

Why don’t we go back into Kendra’s office and we can get any details from you that might help Kendra and I.” He walked in front of the Ushkowitz’s, then stopped at the door to allow them to enter first into her retro purple office. Kendra and her purple.

She walked around her to her chair behind her desk and sat down, “Nick there’s chairs in Molly’s office if you want to grab one.”

That was a start, he thought. “Thanks but I’m fine standing.” He smiled at her and she did her best not to look pissed off.

Nick joined Kendra behind her desk, and together they asked questions to the Ushkowitz’ regarding their foster daughter, Vula Garcia. “Do you have proof that you are Vula’s foster parents?” Kendra asked.

Barb Ushkowitz opened her purse, “we took her in last summer.” She handed some papers and a couple of photos of Vula to Nick. “She had some issues with her step-

father, she ran away a lot and then child services stepped in.”

Vula moved in a week just before school started.” Mac intervened. “She tested us that first month, driving us crazy. She was just trying to see what her limitations were, and with most foster homes, that was easy to find. We can’t have children of our own, so we take in children who need a safe place. Vula soon discovered that she was safe with us and that we actually cared about her.”

She started applying herself at school more, and she started to behave.” Barb added.

What did she do to test you?” Nick inquired.

All sorts of stuff,” Barb began. “She would sneak out, then come in late. She stole some stuff when I took her shopping for school supplies. I managed to talk the store manager into not pressing charges. She would break things in the house.”

Spray painted the garage.”

Barb nodded, “yeah that too. She would stay out all hours and not bother to tell us. One day she was gone over night. Scared us half to death that we had the police involved. When she walked through the door like nothing happened, we had had enough and we reprimanded her with words and a strict grounding.”

Kendra leaned forward and placed her arms on her desk, “and after that?”

She cried for hours, begging us not to send her back. Vula kept apologizing to us for everything she had put us through.” Barb stopped to smile, “she really is a good kid. She calls us if she’s going to be late from school, and asks us if she can go out, then tells us where without us asking. It’s like she’s down a complete turn around.”

She was more responsible. We gave her a cell phone to use to call us if she was late or needed a ride. Never once did she use that phone to call friends or text anyone.” Mac explained.

What kind of friends did she have?” Kendra asked.

Nick was impressed with her handling of the questioning. She would have made one hell of a cop.

Vula didn’t have very many friends. She had a few good ones that we saw on a regular basis.” Mac answered. “She hung around Layla Parker, Clair Jennings and Melissa Russell. I think there was another one she mentioned but we never met her.”

After more questioning on what her relationship was with her teachers and whether she had any problems at school. They asked questions about Vula’s parents, but the Ushkowitz say they didn’t know the entire story. That their not required to know everything. Kendra and Nick walked the couple to their car and promised to keep them

updated often.

Nick mentally took down their license plate to further check out. Beside him, he noticed Kendra, starring off at the retreating car. She was thinking really hard about something, and he could guess what. She turned on her white orthopedic shoes and went back inside the office. He followed.

Hailey, could you please call child services and try your hardest on getting Vula’s file, the file on the Ushkowitz’s and her parents please. They could be real assholes about it and give you a hard time.”

No problem, I am a bigger asshole then they are.” Hailey said as she typed on her computer to locate the number, smiling away. “I’m always up for a fight.”

Am I allowed to ask Hailey for favours?” Nick asked.

Kendra stopped in the door way leading down the hall, “that’s up to her.” She continued down the hall.

Nick turned to Hailey, plastered on his most charming smile and looked into her brown eyes that were looking up at him. “Shoot Nick, what do you need?”

Are you sure you don’t mind?”

As long as you say please and agree to babysit for me in two weeks, then you have a deal.” She bargained.

Nick liked her spunky side. He realized that Hailey was a perfect cross between Kendra and Molly. “Deal. Just remind me about the babysitting.” He smiled, “could you please do background checks on the parents and foster parents. Sometimes that tells you more than the Child Services people’s files.” Hailey nodded with a smile. “Thank-you Hailey.”

Kendra left the washroom re-dressed in her black dress pants, and her pink blouse. Now she was comfortable. Her tits were no longer hitting her chin. Nick had a point earlier and that sort of pissed her off more because he was right. She had help on this case and that’s what was important. A missing child’s case is critical and even Kendra knew she didn’t have the resources or that she could handle it along.

She leaned back in her chair to think. She sprung forward and grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and wrote down the license plate she memorized from the Ushkowitz’s car.

Footsteps on the hardwood floors alerted her to Nick’s approach. Kendra looked up, “I got the license plate of their car.”

Me too,” he smiled as he sat down on the purple chair across from her desk.

Kendra returned the smile. She watched the relax posture belonging to Nick, as he placed his right foot over his left knee, and leaned back. “Where do you wanna start?”

First, I am going to contact some people at the police department to verify that the foster parents claim they called Friday night.” He paused, “then I will likely ask them some questions about why they just disregarded this case.” Nick locked his eyes with hers. He cleared his throat, “what do you think?”

Surprised that he would ask her what she thought. Maybe she would cut Nick some slack. He was trying. “That sounds good. We should also talk with her friends, teachers, and check out all the places she generally frequents.” He nodded in agreement. “What are the odds we find Vula alive?”

Nick sat up, no longer relaxed and right away she knew she wasn’t going to like the answer to her question. “Kendra, you’re a smart woman and you know your stuff about different crimes. I’m pretty sure you know the answer.”

I was afraid of that.”

Ken, sometimes we get lucky and find them. I don’t want to believe the worst on this case, not right now, and neither should you.” He told her.

She just nodded. Being a positive person wasn’t her strongest suit, but she was going to try. If any time in her life needed it, it was right now.

According to Barb and Mac, Vula went to school on Friday and made it to her first two classes, then left for lunch but was not in her final two classes that afternoon.” Nick stated.

She was there in the morning until lunch,” Kendra repeated as she tried to think back to when she was in high school. She and Molly would sometimes leave the school grounds to grab lunch at a little café that served cheap but good food. “I’m thinking she went elsewhere for lunch that day. Molly and I used to do that all the time.”

Did you go to the same school?” She nodded. “Do you have a map that we can muck up?”

Kendra spun around in her chair and got up. Right behind her desk were two black filing cabinets. She pulled open a drawer and yanked out a file folder that had all sorts of local maps. She dug through and pulled one out that was detailed that she printed from Google Maps off the Internet a few weeks ago. Ken turned around and bumped right into Nick. She would have fallen over if it wasn’t for Nick’s strong hands grabbing her arms. “Um, sorry. Didn’t realize you were right behind me.”

He starred at her for a long time, licked his lips. Finally he let go and took a step

back, “sorry, my fault.”

I’ve got a map of the area. I accidentally typed up the wrong area on Google weeks ago and printed it without looking. But we can muck this one up.” She placed the paper down on her desk. “I’m assuming you want to look at the areas near the high school that she would eat at?”

They leaned over the desk, starring at the map. Their shoulder’s touching, and a chill ran up Kendra’s body. She could feel the goose bumps starting on her arms, and knew that Nick probably did too. But as far as Kendra could tell, Nick wasn’t effected . He switched from a sexually charged man, who teased her and made her sex drive explode, to the police officer Nick. Take charge and get to business. She seen his goofy side too many times to believe that he had serious side.

We can eliminate the expensive places.” Nick reached across her desk and grabbed a black roller ball pen.

Bars too. For starters they wouldn’t be able to get in, plus they’d be closed.” Kendra added as Nick marked off the bars along with the expensive restaurants.

How about,” Nick said, pen hovering over the map as he looked at the places.

Places that don’t open until late afternoon.”

Good thinking,” He smiled and crossed those out. “That leaves us with two café’s, four fast food joints, and a donut shop.”

Kendra tapped her middle finger on her left hand on the page. “Eliminate anything that is outside a five mile radius of the high school. There wouldn’t be enough time to get there, eat and get back before third period started.”

With Nick eliminating stuff on the map, that left them with one café, the donut shop and a Subway Sandwich shop. All three places would easily be a teenager’s hang out.

Our first step, just became three. Not too shabby,” Ken said.

Tomorrow, while I’m at the police station, would you be OK with checking out these three places and see if Vula had been there on Friday?” He suggested and she nodded. “Great. I better go, I need to look around my condo for some of my stuff. Plus I still have that stuff I borrowed from you.”

Stole but who’s keeping track.”

Obviously you are,” he stood up, and walked around her desk to the chair he was sitting in. He picked up his black leather jacket from the back of the chair and put it on. She hadn’t even noticed him taking it off.

He started for the door, “oh Nick,” he stopped. “What time do you want to meet?”

I’ll call you,” he responded as he walked out of her office into the hall.

Right, like I haven’t heard that before.” She mumbled to herself.

I heard that.” He yelled from the hall, “that’s funny.”

Kendra rushed down the hall ready to give him a piece of her mind, but when she made it to the reception area, he was holding the vase of flowers and a flat thin package, wrapped in metallic purple wrapping paper.

Happy Birthday,” he leaned in and gave her a soft kiss on her forehead, then placed the items in her arms. By the time she found her voice, he was gone.

What is it?” Hailey asked, “I’ve been dying to know since he plopped it on my desk.”

They’re flowers.”

Duh!”

Kendra smiled at her friend who was more of a sister to her. “Lets find out.”

She started to unwrap it when Hailey started to chuckle, “you and Molly are so opposite. She picks at the tape so that she can save the wrapping paper.” Kendra stopped opening when there was a thin brown box that wasn’t even an inch in thickness.

That’s why I use so much tape now. That way Molly has no choice but to rip it.” Kendra laughed. She opened the brown box, and inside was, “It’s ‘Yesterday And Today’ by The Beatles.” She was in shock.

Don’t you have every single Beatles album on vinyl?”

I do but not this,” she held it up. “There are only a few of these in the World because the cover struck controversy.” The cover had the Beatles in white coats surrounded by dismembered baby dolls. “This is worth a bloody fortune.”

Hailey’s eyes were practically bugged out of her skull, “he’s totally in love with you.”

Kendra looked up from the rare cover to Hailey, her jaw slipped open. Totally in shock.

Chapter 3:

Kendra pulled open the door to the Subway Sandwich shop. The place was filled with teenagers on their lunch. Just like Flo’s Donuts and Café Latte, where she had the best Latte she had ever tasted. It was so good she was craving another. Her hips, however, were not.

She got in line and stood behind a group of cheerleaders. They were all perky and giggly. As they talked, Kendra checked to see if they were chewing on marbles, they kept using “like” a lot in their short sentences. Nothing ever changes.

Hello-Goodbye” sang from the inner depths of her Kate Spade bag, prompting the prostatots in front of her to turn around and give her an odd look.

Oh, like it’s just the old chick,” commented the Cindy Brady rip-off. Oh, God she was old.

Kendra furrowed her brows, as she pressed answer she leaned over to the girls, “smiling causes wrinkles you know.” Then she watched and took pleasure in watching their smiles fall right off their made-up faces.

ALOHA!!” Screamed Molly and Eli on the other end. They were so loud that Kendra had to hold the phone away from her face.

Am I old?”

What?” Eli asked Molly on the other end. Molly chose to ignore her husband and answer her best friend, “sorry about that… You’re not old. But what was up with the wrinkle greeting?”

Some snotty little cheerleaders just called me an old chick. They’re lucky I didn’t kick their asses. It’s really too bad when she reaches twenty-five, she’ll be fat, alone with two kids from different father’s, and suicidal.” Kendra raised her voice.

What a nice thing to teach kids,” Eli stated.

Am I on speaker phone?” Kendra asked.

Yes sweetie you are. I’m sorry you have to put up with cheerleaders, I know how much you hate them.” Molly sympathised.

It’s just not possible to be that happy, all the time.”

Molly laughed. She asked how her dog, Chewbacca, was since Kendra was looking after the standard poodle. Then she asked about work, and Kendra told her and her best friend-in-law all about the hotel debacle, to which both Eli and Molly had a really long and obnoxious laugh over. Then Kendra let them in on the missing child’s

case they were working on. She explained how it was Nick who pushed to take the case and that they were working together. That announcement seemed to have surprise both her partners.

Kendra, make sure you take a close look at both the foster and the biological parents. And I do mean close.” Eli suggested, “often it’s the ones closest to the missing child who is behind it.”

Thanks Eli, I was thinking that. I was surprised Nick didn’t mention it to be honest.” Kendra told him.

Me too,” he agreed. “Usually he’s the first person to suspect the parents or spouses or whoever the closest person to the victim is.”

Kendra wondered if Nick purposely with held his suspicions from her. She didn’t think that he would on a case of this magnitude. “I’ll be sure to mention that to Nick.”

Ken,” Molly interrupted, “don’t forget Chewy’s vet appointment on Thursday.”

Shit, I did forget, but thanks for reminding me.”

Not a problem. Listen, sweetie, Eli is tapping his watch and freaking out because this call is costing a fortune. I will email you later. Keep us posted on the case, and if you need us to come home early, just say the word.”

Thanks Molls, but we should be fine. If I need help, it’s a great time to break Hailey in.” Kendra laughed. “Have fun and don’t worry about us.”

Kendra disconnected the call just in time to talk to the woman who was working the counter. She learned that Vula came in on Friday, like she did every Friday, for lunch. This time she wasn’t with her usual friends, she was with an older man. They were joking around and didn’t seem to be in any trouble. The woman making the subs didn’t have anything more than that. She couldn’t even remember what the man looked like.

I’ll take two twelve-inch pizza subs, on whole wheat, not toasted or heated, please. To go.” Kendra ordered the two subs to make up for hogging the woman’s time. Plus she just totally gave them a lead.

Nick walked into his old precinct, thinking he would have missed all the excitement, and his friends. Something hit him. These guys and women were never his friends. None of them ever called him after he left, but he never called any of them either. His only friend from this place was currently on his honeymoon.

Bridget,” Nick greeted with a huge smile, showing off his white teeth. He walked up to the front desk.

Nick Dupree,” the short woman with the blonde ponytail greeted, “how are you?”

He nodded, “very well thank-you.” Figures Bridget was in a chit-chat type of mood. She asked all sorts of questions. “I’m really sorry Bridget, but I’m really busy and in desperate need to speak to someone in Missing Persons. Who’s up there?”

Oh, yeah, sure.” She looked disappointed. She was a young police officer who served mostly on the front desk. One who Nick had thought had dating potential, but along came Birdie Stevenson. He should have dated Bridget. “Kim Sanchez and Paul DiMarco are in. You can go right on through.” She handed him a visitors badge.

As he weaved his way through the many desks, Nick tried to recall detectives Sanchez and DiMarco, but he drew a blank.

He walked towards a tall, well built, woman with dark hair pulled back into a tight pony tail. She was sitting on the corner of a desk belonging to a long legged, bald man. It all came back to them now. They didn’t have the best of reputations in the department.

Detectives,” Nick plastered on a fake smile, “how’s it going?”

The tall guy stood up, adjusted his belt, “well isn’t it the jack-ass formally know as detective.”

DiMarco, find any missing children lately?” Nick stated sarcastically. He remembered Paul DiMarco. He was the laziest asshole in the entire precinct.

He gave a cocky, over-confident smile, “no children missing to be found, Dupree.”

Are you sure about that?” Nick was getting pissed off, but he tamped it down. “Could you look up a report filed Friday evening by a couple named Barb and Mac Ushkowitz?”

DiMarco raised his head and nodded in the direction of the desk across from his. Detective Kim Sanchez walked around to her desk and typed it in. “There was a report put in by them on Friday.”

Nick gave a head tilt with a phony smile, “see? Told you. What can you tell me?”

What’s it to you Dupree?”

I’ve been hired to do your job by the foster parents to find her.” He paused, “I’m a private investigator now.”

Kim Sanchez walked back over to the two men, sparring off mentally, and

thrusted a bunch of papers at Nick. “Better you wasting your time, then us. That girl has been nothing but trouble. She runs away all the time.”

He looked down at the papers in his hands. It was everything they had on Vula Garcia. “I don’t think it matters. A family asked for your help, and it is your fucking job to help them. That’s why you get paid.”

Nick could feel his face grow hot with anger, but he maintained his cool. Two of the biggest assholes were in a department where families of missing people, especially children, need understanding, and sensitivity. When he and Kendra solved this case, he was going to strongly encourage the Ushkowitz to file a complaint, then he would do the same.

He gave Kendra a call on her cell and asked her to meet him at his condo.

Kendra pulled into the parking lot of Nick’s condo, parking next to a tree. She hadn’t been there since August when they made love in his condo. The memories made her face grow hot and her nipples tighten. That night was one of the hottest nights she had ever experience in her life.

She could remember his hands all over her body as their lips were together, and the feel of him inside of her. Kendra blew out a breath, and squeezed her legs together to ease the throbbing. She continued her day dream filled with the memories of the way his mouth felt on her body, under the warm water of the shower head. Her hands dropped to her lap and her eyes closed. All the tingles that she felt that evening, and all the emotion that she put into making love to Nick flooded her senses.

BANG! BANG! Kendra jumped up from her seat and turned to look at the window to find Nick, the source of her day dreams and horniness, standing on the other side of the glass. Kendra took a deep breath and opened the door.

You OK?” Nick asked, his hands finding her face. He looked at her intensely.

Yeah, I’m fine. I’m, just tired.” She lied, looking straight into his eyes.

He squinted at her. Looking at her, through her. “Alright.”

She walked beside Nick as they walked into the back door of the Condominium. He kept looking over his shoulder at her. He knew she lied.

You sure?”

Drop it, please. I’m fine.”

Nick shrugged as he held the door open leading them to the elevators. Never in her life was she so happy that the elevator ride was only to the third floor. Kendra just

prayed that he didn’t bring up what happened in his home, and that she didn’t embarrass herself completely. This was a big mistake agreeing to come here. She should have insisted that they meet at her place.

What did you bring?” Nick asked.

Her head snapped up and looked at him. Her eyes were wide, she tried to tone it down, “Pardon?”

In the bag. What is it?”

Oh, um, pizza subs. Grabbed us lunch from Subway.” She clarified. He nodded and smiled.

They settled inside his condo and sat at the breakfast bar looking back into his kitchen. Nick had tossed their subs into the microwave which sat in the corner by the refrigerator and heated them up. “Great idea with the subs. I was kind of hungry when I called.”

No problem, I stood in line and pestered the poor sandwich maker so I figured the least I could do was order something.” Kendra unwrapped hers. “I figured since you like pizza that a pizza sub was the way to go. I got us both the same.”

No, that’s great. Thank-you.” He took a bite of his and drop of pizza sauce plopped on to the wax wrapper that his sub was wrapped in. “What did you learn from the restaurants?”

Kendra told him that the donut and the first two places were a wash but Vula frequents Subway every Friday with her friends. “Last Friday, she didn’t come in with her friends. She came in with an older gentleman, but the woman couldn’t give me description. She said that Vula didn’t look like she was in any danger and that they were laughing and talking.”

Nick was about to bite into his sub but stopped, “that’s strange?”

How so?”

Do you really by the fact that this woman didn’t take note of the man who came in with our missing girl?”

Honestly?” Kendra paused, “hella no.”

Did you push?”

No, I wanted to get her to see that I trust her. I’ll go back either tomorrow or the day after.” Kendra took a bite.

Good,” he stated before chowing down.

Kendra brought up that she talked to Eli and Molly in between bites. She told him that Eli suggest they take a close look at both sets of parents of the girl, and Nick assured her he thought of that this morning. She chose not to question him about why he didn’t tell her. It was really a minor issue. “Maybe we should talk surveillance.”

Yeah you’re right we should,” Nick wiped his mouth with a napkin. “First, I think we need to lay down some ground rules for our safety.”

What do you mean?”

He turned in his bar stool to look at her, “we need to be cautious. I don’t want a repeat of Kennebunkport.” Nick was referring to the case that brought Molly and Eli together. A case where both of them nearly lost their lives looking for a missing elderly woman and trying to break an insurance fraud case. One of the doctors from a walk-in clinic had hired Eli to find his missing mother, only the woman missing wasn’t this guys mother. The doctor and his siblings were also connected to insurance fraud. Turned out they were willing to kill Molly and Eli to get away, but Nick and Kendra saved the day.

Understood. We don’t do anything on this case without the other.” Kendra stated. She didn’t like this. But if spending day and night with Nick in a car and not in a hotel room where there was a bed, then she figured she could handle it. “Tonight, I think we should start with Ushkowitz house.”

Why them?”

Because it was the person who hired Eli who tried to kill them, I figure lets get this one over with first.” She reasoned.

He shook his finger at her and made a face, “nip it in the bud. Gotcha’!”

Chapter 4:

Nick drew little circles all over his note pad. He managed to turn a few them into psychotic squirrels, but nothing else was productive about him drawing circles or otherwise. He glanced over at Kendra’s page, and unlike him, her notes were neat and very detailed looking. That couldn’t have been easy considering that there was nothing to write except that at 7pm, the Ushkowitz’s sat on their front porch for thirty-minutes then went back inside. At 8pm, a pizza arrived, and Mac Ushkowitz paid. Then at 9pm, they sat on the front porch again, for ten minutes. Thinking about the pizza made Nick’s stomach rumble.

Kendra looked over at him, then rolled her eyes. He could tell that she was none too please with the food wrappers all over her dashboard. She was a neat freak, and he did understand that. He himself had a maids service come in every day and clean his place. He liked clean but he was untidy and unorganized.

His stomach rumbled again, this time prompting Kendra to slam down her pen on the pad of paper, “really?”

What?”

You can’t possibly be hungry still,” she stated. Nick shrugged. “Search the pile of wrappers, I bet there will be left over taco meat or chicken from your schwaramas to munch on.”

That’s cruel baby,” he laughed.

She picked up a burrito wrapper and tossed it at him, “better yet, if you eat all the wrappers, then not only will you be full but my car will be cleaned. You’ll learn the art of multi-tasking.” Kendra smiled sarcastically at him.

No need to get Nasty, Ken. I will clean it all up when we are done here.”

But it’s driving me nuts now,” she complained.

Nick smiled as his head bobbed slightly, “yeah, I know.”

Kendra made a face and picked up the night vision binoculars and watched the house belonging to their clients.

A cold wind blew through her window, not phasing her at all but it sent major chills through Nick. All Kendra had on was a light black trench coat, a short sleeved shirt on underneath, and jeans. Meanwhile, Nick had on a pair of long underwear, three pairs of socks, jeans, a t-shirt under a sweater, a ski-jacket, wool gloves and a hat. He looked down at her feet. Flip flops.

Really?” He exclaimed, “you can’t possible be warm.”

She starred at him for a bit, “please don’t mock me.”

I’m not, I was just…”

You’re mocking me.”

No Kendra I am NOT.” He said with his gloved covered hands in front of him, palms up, as he tried to convince her that he wasn’t mocking her. Except he totally was. “I just don’t understand how you can be warm wearing summer clothes at all, let alone with your window down. It’s not even April yet.” He looked at the clock, in five minutes it will officially be April.

Why, are you cold Nicky?” She mocked.

Kendra,” he warned.

Oh yeah, Nick was in for a long night.

Hailey re-arranged the reception area slightly for when her husband showed up. The two of them were finally able to have a nice romantic lunch. Kids free.

She smoothed her hands over her gray dress pants, and popped a couple of buttons on her light blue blouse as she looked around the room. The candles on the pink coffee table were lit, the wine and glasses which she pilfered from Kendra’s bottom desk drawer were in the centre, and the door was locked. Hailey owed Kendra for allowing her to close for the lunch hour.

Alex, who was bringing lunch, banged into the door before knocking. Hailey smiled and walked coolly over to the door and opened it for him.

Geez Hails, why’d ya lock the door?” He said in that soft tone he always spoke in.

Kendra closed the agency for lunch today.” Hailey slid her hands around his waist to his back and pulled him in to kiss him.

He kissed back, but only briefly. “That was really nice.” He pulled back, “but as much as I would love to stand here and make-out, I only have half an hour for lunch, and I’m starved.” Alex let go and then turned to the couch.

Hailey pursed her lips together and looked up at the ceiling and let out a breath. Men were so dumb sometimes. She did up the two buttons on her blouse and walked over to the couch. “What did you bring?”

I got us, two hamburgers. Yours with dill pickle, cheese, ketchup, mustard and tomato. And I got triple onion, hot peppers, ketchup and spicy mustard.”

She so wasn’t kissing him again after lunch. “Fries too I see, and what else?”

Onion rings.” Alex said. He noticed the candles and the wine. “What’s all this?”

Hailey was about to answer, when the phone on her desk rang. “Excuse me for a minute.”

She got up and answered it. “Diva’s Private Investigators?” She waited as the other person on the other end. They had some information regarding the missing girl. Hailey smiled and grabbed a note pad on her desk and started jotting down the information. “That’s great thank you so much. Do you have a number for Ms. Morgan or Mr. Dupree to reach you at?” She nodded and wrote down a phone number. “Thanks again, have a great day.”

Alex stood up tho his full height of six-feet, “Hailey.”

She turned to look at him, “what’s up?”

No, you’re not getting involved in this.”

Alex, honey, I never said I was going to.” She answered.

You don’t have to Hails. I can see it all over your face. The excitement alone of that phone call, just sent you over the edge. I can tell you are just itching to do something.” Alex accused.

Bite your tongue. I’m a mother of two and a wife. I like it here and sure I get excited when something like this happens because it helps Kendra out.”

He looked at her like he thought she was full of it. “Alright.”

Now, can we please eat lunch since you have to rush out of here so damn quickly.” Hailey said with a touch of hostility.

He was right. Hailey yearned for the chance to get out in the field, to do that, she would have to get a license but there was no way that Alex would let her investigate anything. She got to see first hand all the danger and excitement that her sisters and brother-in-law experienced. Part of her wished that she could do stuff like this. One day, maybe she’ll ask to at least tag along with Kendra or Molly.

She looked over at her husband of the past fifteen years. He used to be different before Megan came a long. Alex used to race his motorcycle and go white water rafting on the weekends. He no longer did that. Maybe he should try investigating. He shoved his stinky hamburger into his mouth and chewed. His blue eyes met hers and he smiled, mouth full. No matter what, Hailey loved him.

Chewbacca and Hardy crowded around Nick’s legs, trying to get his attention and Kendra was happy it wasn’t her for once. Those two dogs could really tire a person out. She put down their fresh water bowl and braced herself on the butcher block style counter top and looked at Nick. He was arguing that they need to back off their clients, and focus on the friends. Kendra felt that watching the clients or the parents should be priority.

What if they try to move her or kill her and we aren’t there to at least stop them or whatever.”

Are you listening to yourself Kendra? Do you really think you can stop them?” Nick untangled himself from the dogs and walked to her stainless steel fridge and helped himself to a bottle of water.

She raised an eyebrow. Usually she was all for her friends helping themselves but they normally asked first. Nick didn’t bother, he skipped the formality and went for the water. “Could have asked first.”

I could have, yes.” He answered as he unscrewed the lid and took a long pull on the bottle. Drinking half of it. “You can’t stop sociopaths. Did you not learn anything from Kennebunkport when we had to rescue Eli and Molly?”

I did and I believe we actually stopped said sociopaths. So your little remark just now,” she paused. “Not valid.”

He put his bottle down on the counter across from her. Kendra couldn’t help but notice his arm muscles bunching under the tight sleeves of his white t-shirt. Which also fitted nicely. Nick’s brown eyes were starring at her. Making her slightly uncomfortable, which he knew because she had a thing about being starred at. “I say that we need to focus on the friends and check the school and not waste time over the damn parents.”

Hello?” Her brother. What was he doing here now, she wondered.

In the kitchen.” She returned her focus to Nick. “Who’s company is this? I don’t even recall having you on payroll for my company.”

Actually it’s my company, you guys still haven’t paid me the full amount yet,” Seth said as he strolled in, dropping her mail on the counter. He turned his attention to Nick, “I’m Seth, Ra’s brother. And you are? We may have met at Molly’s wedding.”

I’m Nick,” he shook Seth’s hand, “I’m not sure what I am, but we met too briefly at the wedding.”

A nuisance.” Kendra answered. “And yes technically it’s your company. Although I have the final payment in the bank. Need to get you a cashier’s check for

that.”

Doesn’t matter, I could care less.” Seth said as he watched Nick.

Kendra could tell that Seth was eyeing Nick cautiously. Her brother generally didn’t like too many outsiders, and right now she could tell that him hearing Nick basically yell at her in her own home, made Nick an immediate threat to his baby sis.

We are just working on the strategy for a case.” She explained. “What are you doing here? Not that I’m not happy to see you.”

Seth moved his head towards the hallway leading down to her bedroom and office. Kendra excused herself from Nick’s company and followed her brother down the hall. “You need to properly put him on payroll. Your insurance won’t cover anything if he gets hurt.”

He is on payroll, although I haven’t formally discussed it with him yet. Plus Nick is freelance he is insured on his own.” Kendra explained.

Good, I’m just looking out for you and Molly. Plus with Eli being a new addition, I just wanted to make sure that they are aware of Nick being there.” Seth added.

Oh they know.” Kendra said. “I know you mean well but Nick is a former detective just like Eli and he might be an asset to this case.”

Fired or quit?”

Quit.”

That makes a slight difference.” Seth looked down the hall to see if Nick was listening in. “Just watch your back and don’t let him push you around.”

Kendra smiled. She loved her brother but he said stupid things all the time. “Dude, seriously do I let anyone push me around?” Seth was about to open his mouth, “ah don’t answer that, Mom doesn’t count.”

He smiled, “she does and don’t call me dude.” Seth walked out of her office and back into the kitchen.

What’s in the bag?” Kendra asked as she returned to the kitchen.

Seth pushed the Saks bag across the counter to her, “left over from a photo shoot with Sarah Jessica Parker. Thought you might want these.”

Kendra loved stuff from her brother, it was the only way she could ever afford designer. Free. She pulled out a shoe box, Manolo’s, her favourite. She opened the box and found the most gorgeous pair of heels. They were fushia with a thin black heel and a

white ribbon weaved around the the edge, tied in a slight bow at the very back. “Love them.”

Nick looked at them with furrowed brows. “I’m going to go. I will call you later, is that OK?”

Against her better judgement because she wasn’t sure what he was up to, she let him go.

Nick took off, and drove over to the high school to see if he can talk to anyone about Vula. When he got there, it was between periods and there were a few student milling about. He looked curiously around to see if anyone would be willing to talk to him. Except they would all disperse when he approached any.

His sunglasses shielded his eyes from the glare of the sun as he scanned the area, and that’s when he saw the navy blue uniform of janitorial. Worn by Elton Savidis.

Elton’s hair was tucked under a baseball hat, but his beard was scruffy since he had shaved it off for Eli’s wedding to Molly on Saturday. He knew Elton had a bit of a problem with alcohol and he was struggling not to order a beer when he was at the wedding but to his credit, he stuck with water or Coke. Nick thought, sometimes janitors knew the students and hoped that Elton could be of some help.

Elton,” Nick greeted.

Nick, how are you? Please tell me my son didn’t sign you up to check on his old man?” Elton smiled. He was get old but he was clean and didn’t smell of booze.

No not at all actually. I’m working a case, and I was wondering if you could help me.”

Sure I can try my best.” Elton motioned for Nick to follow him. They walked through the doors into the high school and down a hallway to the janitor’s closet.

The room was bigger than Nick expected it to be, it had a full washroom, complete with shower off to the one side and two desks for Elton and another janitor. Lockers and small kitchenette. Elton pulled out a chair and motioned for Nick to sit, and then made him a cup of coffee.

Nick didn’t hold back he just laid it all out. “There’s a student who goes to this school whose parents have reported missing.”

Elton’s brow softened, “oh that’s terrible. I take it that’s the case you’re working on?”

It is.” He answered. “She’s fourteen, latino, and was a trouble maker a while back. She’s straightened up but the police won’t help the family out because of this girls past.”

I know some of the students here, if you have a picture maybe I can tell you if I know her.” Elton Savidis leaned on the table, supported by his forearms. Nick handed him a picture. “Vula? She’s missing?”

You know her?”

Oh yeah, sweet girl. She always brings me lunch on Friday’s.”

When did you last see her?” Nick asked.

Friday at lunch. She said her friends were all going to the mall, skipping school.” He began, “so she invited me to go with her to Subway. I felt bad for the girl so I joined her for lunch, but this time I bought lunch.”

Interesting, Nick thought. He had a bad feeling in the bottom of his stomach. “Did she return with you to the school?” Elton nodded. “Did she go inside the school or stay outside when you separated?”

She said she needed to go to her locker and that was the last I saw her. She was walking towards the D-wing.” Elton explained.

Do you know her friends?”

Yeah I do. They skip school a lot but Vula never does with them. It wasn’t the first time I’ve gone to lunch with Ms. Garcia. I probably shouldn’t, as it probably looks bad.”

Elton, I’ve got to say, that it does. If I was a cop still and didn’t know you, you would be suspect number one.” Nick told him bluntly.

Yeah, I know.” Elton hung his head. “I have never hurt her or anyone around here.”

I know.” Nick finished up by telling Elton that if he thought of anything to call him, especially if it didn’t line up with Vula’s usual routine. Of course, Elton agreed.

Nick drove over to Kendra’s house, relieved to see the rental BMW out of the driveway. This was going to be hard enough telling his partner that he did work on his own without her, but at least her brother was gone.

He stood before her in her kitchen, she wasn’t look happy when he told her all about his conversation with Elton Savidis. As anticipated she was yelling and flailing her arms all around. “I would have liked to have been there for that conversation Nick. In

case you forgot, this case belongs to my agency.”

I know.”

No, I don’t think you do. You don’t get it do you?” Kendra yelled, “you make the fucking rule that we are not to go off on our own because we could get into trouble, but then you are the first one to do it. I didn’t know where you were if something had happened.”

She kept on going, yelling and calling him dumb. Nick understood her point and she was right but he wasn’t ready to tell her that. Instead, Nick stepped forward, and shut her up the only way he knew how. He kissed her.

Chapter 5:

Their ragged breaths were the only sound in her kitchen as they stood only inches apart from each other. Her lips were red and puffy, like he’d just kissed the hell out of her. Kendra could still feel him on her mouth.

You drive me crazy, Kendra.” Nick said between huffs of breath.

Yeah,” she was a little breathy hereself, “you infuriate me.”

He raised his head slightly, smirked, then she felt Nick’s hands on her hips and then felt him tug her to his body. “I think we should just fuck it out.”

Kendra gasped and her hands clutched his shoulders as his mouth reclaimed hers. His tongue tasted like mint. Knowing Nick the way she did, he had chewed gum recently and probably spit it out in her front garden. She slid her tongue into his mouth as his hands slid up her under her shirt to her back. Before she had a chance to think, he had pulled her shirt over her head and between their lips. Breaking the kiss for only a few seconds, but it felt like forever.

Her fingers imprinted the soft black leather of his jacket. Kendra would never look at leather the same way again. She could feel the lapels of the leather jacket against her breasts, and the sensation was making her wet. But as much as she loved the feel of the leather, it had to go. She pushed Nick away from her. Shocked, he just stood there starring at her.

Take your jacket off.” She demanded. He took it off slowly. “Better, now your shirt.”

I like this side of you.”

Shut it and get to bidness!” She said, prompting Nick to smile and raise a brow, then removed his shirt.

Kendra jumped up on the counter, kicked off her new Manolo’s and stretched her foot out. She had great toes. They always could get her what she wanted, and this time she used her toes to hook Nick’s belt and pull him to her. Nick reached for the thin black belt cinched around her waist. He slipped the belt through the loops and tugged it undone. His intensity was turning Kendra on more and more. She knew what it felt like to have Nick naked and inside her but it felt like a long time ago. She craved him like she did chocolate.

Lift your hips Ken,” he said against her throat. She complied and lifted her hips and he slid her pants off down her thighs.

The counter was cold beneath her thighs and bottom. The lace panties matched her lace pink bra. She dressed knowing that she would have Nick going crazy if he had

known what was under her clothes. All intentions was for her pleasure not his. She didn’t plan on sitting practically naked in her kitchen with Nick standing between her legs. The roughness of his jeans on her skin, and the cool silver buckle of his belt pressing against the crotch of her panties, cooling her where she was hot. She could have orgasmed right there.

Nick’s mouth sucked on the sensitive flesh of her throat and then his lips travelled down to the tops of her breasts, where he sucked on the flesh there too. With one hand, he undid the front clasp of her bra, and freed her aching breasts. He stopped to take her in.

I love your tits, Kendra.”

Keep talking, and I’ll cover them up.” She responded as she tightened her thighs around his waist. Keeping him right where she wanted. Kendra reached between their bodies and undid his belt, the knuckles of her fingers bumping her own vagina. What a turn on, she was getting too close to the edge. “I need you right now, Nick. I’m so fucking hot.”

Say no more.” Nick stepped back, took his wallet from his back pocket, removed a condom and finished removing his pants and boxer briefs. His hard penis sprung up. She noticed that he was practically throbbing.

He quickly put on the condom, as she removed her panties. Nick Climbed on to the counter, forcing Kendra to on to her back. The cold of the counter cooled her flesh. He took her nipple into his mouth and nipped and then licked at it, then switched his focus to the other one. His hand slid between her thighs, and he inserted his finger while his thumb played with her clit. Kendra let out a moan of pleasure. “Now Nick.”

He spread her legs further apart to accommodate his hips, as he slid right into her. The feel of him inside of her felt so right. Kendra’s hands slid down his back and she clutched his solid butt. She raised her hips and met him thrust for thrust. Their movements were frantic and hurried but she could feel ber body start to tremble. Nick cursed through his gritted teeth as he pushed and pulled.

She was on the verge of coming when he slowed his motion, and keeping her orgasm at bay. “Oh God!” Kendra hollered.

Nick leaned down and kissed her, his tongue mimicking what his body was doing. He sped up a bit and she clenched around him, as her orgasm hit her hard. She felt his arms tremble around her, and she felt his body react to his own orgasm. They shared their breaths with one another as they felt the release. Wow, Kendra thought. She didn’t believe that this time could top the time in August, but it just did.

His jacket was right beside him on the counter top. He grabbed it and rolled it up, placing it under Kendra’s head. Nick laid his head back down and put his hand on her flat stomach. She was quiet now. Normally Nick would love that, but right now he just

needed to know what she was thinking.

She rolled her head to look at him. Her brown eyes like milk chocolate, glistened in the afterglow. A lazy smile appeared on her face, and he rubbed his thumb back and forth over her tummy, his thumb occasionally flicking her navel ring.

You look like you’re thinking.” She stated. “Want to tell me about it?”

Nick smiled at her, he wasn’t sure that now was the time to ask questions. “I don’t know.”

Why?” Kendra’s hand reached up and touched his cheek. It gently slipped to his jaw, and her thumb ran over the stubble of hair on his chin.

He loved the feel of her hands on him. “I’m not sure now is the time to talk about what happened in August.”

I think now is a good time. I’m sated and unlikely to get pissed off.” She joked and let out a little giggle.

OK,” Nick got a bit mor comfortable on the counter top. If he was smart, he would suggest the bedroom or her couch. Although her couch was white, then again, it probably wouldn’t matter. “I don’t regret making love to you that night Kendra. In fact, I relive it in my dreams almost every night.”

You do?”

Ah-huh, and I just want to be around you even though you don’t want me around.” He said.

That’s not true. I do want you around. I want you around all the time.” She responded. Her hand still touching his face. Kendra slid her hand slowly from his face down his neck to his shoulders, and stopped.

I came to your house the next day.” He began. “There was no answer at your door but your car was in the driveway. So I walked around back, and opened the gate.”

I never heard you open the gate.”

Nick rubbed her stomach gently, “I know.” Kendra was listening to him, for once she kept her mouth shut and was just taking what he had to say in. He continued to tell her about seeing her with her ex-boyfriend and that his reaction was to bolt and just deal with the anger he had. “As I ignored my feelings for you, it kept festering inside me and the longer I kept it inside the more I realized that things were complicated between you and him.”

It’s not complicated Nick. Matt and I were over a very long time ago, but we

have remained friends.”

His hands were all over you.”

Kendra laid there, her hand still on his arm. “Nick, nothing is complicated between Matt and I. He’s my friend, and sure he put sun block on me that day, but Molly does it to for me. Doesn’t mean I’m sleeping with her.”

Nick thought about it for a second and made a face, “I’m alright with that if you want to sleep with Molly, but I wanna watch.”

Kendra laughed and smacked his chest playfully, “you’re a pig.” Nick kissed her. “Nicky, I don’t want you to feel threatened by him. If you ever feel that way, don’t run from it, just ask me.”

Promise.” Nick kissed her again and then slid off the counter. She looked shocked that he left the oasis of the counter. “Come here.” He grabbed her ankle and pulled her just enough to him that he could lift her into his arms.

She squealed in delight as she was naked, cradled in his strong arms as he walked down the hall to her bedroom. He loved her bedroom, and he was finding himself becoming fond of purple.

Nick had her cradled in his arms in her bed. Both dogs on the floor, snoring. He was just about asleep when his cell phone chirped.

You’re ring tone is so boring.” Kendra commented.

Nick smiled and reached for his phone. He didn’t recognize the phone number but he answered it anyways. Could be about the case. He sat up and greeted the caller. Kendra got up and walked naked to the bathroom. He heard that tap running.

Is this Mr. Nick Dupree?”

Whoever the caller was on the other end, she was young, “yes this is.”

My names is Layla Parker, our school’s janitor gave me your card and told me you were looking for Vula Garcia.” The young girl said.

Nick explained that he was looking for Vula and Layla suggested that they meet to talk. She had something she wanted to tell him. “How about I meet you at the Subway shop, after school?” Layla agreed and they disconnected the call. School ended in twenty-five minutes. Nick needed to get Kendra dressed and ready.

Ken,” he called to her.

Yes,” she said as she looked around the door frame, tooth brush in her hand.

He stood up, and walked towards her. She raised a hopeful eyebrow. “Down girl, we need to get dressed and head towards the high school.”

Can’t I shower first?”

No way, school end in less than a half an hour, and Layla Parker is going to meet us at the Subway near the school. It’s going to take almost at least fifteen minutes to get there.” Nick explained. He turned around to go get his closed out of the kitchen.

Nick,” she called back. He turned around. “I don’t want to go like this. I smell like sex.”

He smiled, “yeah I know.”

They got to the sub shop with five minutes to spare. Nick went to order some food, while Kendra took a seat. After his sex comments, she spritzed her Burberry Brit perfume on and got dressed in fresh clothes. The more she thought about it the more she realized that they never should have had sex while they were on a case. He was too distracting, but he was oh so good at the deed.

A young girl with strawberry blonde hair came in carrying a back pack. She looked to be about fourteen years old, and she peered around the restaurant looking for someone. Nick returned to the table with three drinks, and two subs to go.

Nick, I think that might be Layla.” Kendra informed him. He turned around, then walked over to her. She heard him ask if she was Layla Parker, and she nodded.

Her jeans were ripped at the knee, and she wore a lime green puffy jacket. Her hair was straight and layered, and hung just past her shoulders. Her backpack was bright pink with an orange zipper. She slid into the seat across from Kendra in the booth as Nick slid in next to her.

Layla, this is my partner, Ms. Morgan.” Nick introduced.

Kendra, you can call me Kendra.” She corrected. Layla nodded. “Layla, when did you last see Vula Garcia?”

Layla unzipped her coat and took it off, putting it on the seat next to her. “I saw Layla last Friday at lunch. I was leaving with some of our friends to go to the mall. I have a free period right after lunch.”

Save it Layla, freshmen don’t have free periods. You were skipping. I don’t care if you were skipping, I’m not going to tell your parents.” Nick interrupted.

Fine, I skipped. My friend Clair’s boyfriend is older and he drives.” Layla fiddled with the cuff of her sleeve. “Vula won’t skip because she doesn’t want to piss off her foster parents. They’re really nice people so I don’t blame her. I left Vula at the start of lunch at her locker.”

That was the last time you saw her?” Kendra asked, and the girl nodded.. “Do you know anything else?”

The girl nodded. “Vula, for some reason, struck up a friendship with the old guy in janitorial. When we come here on Friday’s, she always brings him back a meatball sub and a drink.”

Who is this janitor that she associates with?” Kendra asked.

Shit, I’m sorry Kendra.” Nick apologized. “I didn’t get a chance to tell you. Eli’s father is the janitor.”

Figures, he would forget to mention that. She gave him a look that said she would deal with him later. “Layla, what kind of friendship?”

I really don’t know but I find it very creepy. I think they have something going on.” Layla speculated.

I’m not at liberty to doubt you but I know Mr. Savidis, and I sincerely doubt there was anything going on. But we will check it out thoroughly.” Nick told her. “I want you to have your other friends who hang out with Vula get in contact with either Kendra or myself.” He handed her a handful of business cards. He quickly jotted down Kendra’s cell phone number on the back.

Can I go now?”

Sure, thank you Layla.” Kendra smiled and nodded at the girl. When Layla was out the door, she turned in the seat. “Forgot to tell me that your best friends father is connected to this case?”

Well, yeah.” He smiled, “we sort of got busy on your counter.”

True, but really, that should have been something you told me before we got here.” Kendra stated. He agreed with her.

Kendra cracked her knuckles then took a sip of her Diet Coke as Nick cracked the seal on his Mountain Dew. She watched him basically chug half the bottle. She didn’t feel comfortable looking at Eli’s father as a suspect but he was just that. “Nick, we need to talk to Elton Savidis further about this and his relationship with Vula.”

He exhaled and then leaned back against the crappy hard bench. “I know but I don’t feel right about doing it yet until I can talk to Eli.”

Nick, we can’t play favourites here. If Eli’s father is involved, he needs to be punished. But before you jump all over me, I don’t think he is directly involved.” Kendra told him. “We need to talk to him.”

Let me talk to Eli first.” Nick wasn’t going to budge. Kendra agreed. “We need to set up another surveillance, but this time with the Garcia’s.”

Oh sure, now you’re all for the surveillance.” Kendra laughed as she finished off her Diet Coke. “I think we just need to start with the direct approach. We need to question them first then watch them.”

Nick scratched his shoulder, “that’s actually a really good idea. Want to go now?” She shook her head. “Why not?”

I really want to shower first.”

You want company?” He asked. Her response, “sure do big guy.”

Chapter 6:

Nick pulled his car into the cracked-stamped paved driveway belonging to the Garcia’s in Yardley. The house was a tiny bungalow, the siding painted pink and chipped in various places. The front porch was visibly slanted and the house’s yard was surrounded by a chain link fence. The home gave Kendra the creeps. She had a bad feeling about these people already, and she hadn’t even met them yet. She looked at Nick as he reached for the seat belt clasp and unlocked his. He left his sunglasses on. Nick caught her eye and gave her a smile and then she undid her own seat belt.

The man who opened the door looked like he was dragged through a grease pit. His black hair and sideburns didn’t lack in the hair grease, and the yellow stains on his probably once white wife-beater tank top, was probably stains. He had a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth, a naked woman tattooed on his right bicep, and a beer belly to match the can in his hand.

Waddya want?”

Rico Garcia?” Nick asked.

Ya. Are you a cop?” Rico Garcia asked.

No, Private Investigators,” Kendra answered. “We’re here to ask you a few questions about your step-daughter.”

He left the door open but walked away. Nick grabbed it and held it open for them. The house reeked of old oil left inside a deep fryer, and curry. If Kendra thought the outside as bad, the inside was worse. Her black heeled boot, kept getting snagged on the brown threads of the shag carpeting. The television blared from the room to their left, which she assumed was the living room.

Vezna, police are here.” He hollered as he sat back into his green leather recliner.

Ah, we’re not the police.” Kendra reiterated.

Whatever senora.”

She looked at Nick who kept his sunglasses on. He was surveying the room and it’s contents. No doubt using his police background to look for anything suspicious. Kendra turned her head in the opposite direction of his, and a woman who was frumpy and chubby, came through the door with her belly hanging out of an orange cropped-halter top, jeans that sat too low on her hips and bottled blonde hair pulled tight into a pony tail. Her eyebrows were arched high on her forehead, obviously drawn on, and thick red liner outlined her lips. “Who are you?”

Kendra Morgan and Nick Dupree, we’re private investigators. We’re here about

your daughter, Vula.” Kendra introduced.

The woman put her hand on her hip. “What the lil’ bitch do now?”

Um,” Kendra looked back at Nick.

He took over, “nothing. She’s been missing since Friday.”

The woman shrugged as her husband got out of his chair. “That chick, has caused this family nothin’ but trouble, you hear me.”

I’m sure she has sir, but she’s been missing for over twenty-four hours and her foster parents are worried about her.” Kendra informed them. They were making her really mad.

So, like that’s s’pose to bother us? She’s a liar and she runs away all the time,” Vezna Garcia told them. “Vula would leave for a few days all the time. We, like tried callin’ the pigs and all.” Nick shifted on his feet, “but they don’t do nothin’. So yo shouldn’t like be wastin’ yo time.

Bad English aside, I see your point.” Kendra began, “but someone reported her missing to the police and they are not doing anything, as you said, but we were hired to do something so that is what was are doing.”

Can you tell us when was the last time you saw your daughter?” Nick asked.

Vezna looked at Rico, then answered Nick’s question. “Um, I think it was two months ago at the children’s service place.”

How did she seem?” Kendra followed up.

She seemed like she turned into that Martha Stewart cunt that she’s been living with. Vula was all ‘Hello’ and not ‘what up?’ you know.” Rico answered. “She didn’t look like our Vula no more.”

Kendra wrote that down, then asked, “may we inquire the reason why children’s services removed your daughter from your home?”

What for?” Vezna questioned.

Just to help us with background, something you know might help us find her.” Nick answered.

Oh, sure sure.” Vezna nodded, her giant hoop earrings swinging back and forth. “She went all crazy with the lying and all, tellin’ people at her school that Rico here touched her.”

Touch as in how?” Asked Kendra.

Like you know, molested and shit.” Vezna crossed her arms.

Kendra hated people like that. Pedophilia drove her crazy, it made her skin crawl and her stomach turned. It was such an ongoing problem that just gets worse, and no one ever gets a suitable punishment. As far as she was concerned they should get automatic death. People are all concerned that therapy and medical treatments could cure pedophilia, but they were wrong.

She bit her lower lip, and noticed that Nick saw her do so, and thankfully he took cue and took over. “And did you?” He asked Rico.

I never touched that little bitch. She’s fuckin’ lyin’.” Rico got all defensive.

Nick nodded, “fine. Where were you guys on Friday around twelve-thirty in the afternoon?”

What? Are you shittin’ me?” Rico yelled.

No I am not ‘shittin” you.” Nick demanded, “where were you?”

At work.”

And that is where?”

I work at Harley’s Bar and Grill.” Rico answered. “I was working the lunch shift.”

And what about you Mrs. Garcia?”

She snapped a bubble from the gum she had blown, “I was at the bank.”

Which bank?” Nick questioned.

United Banking and Loan’s on twenty-seventh street.” She answered showing major hostility.

Then where did you go?”

What is this?”

It’s called questioning.” Nick answered.

If you’re grillin’ us because that cunt claimed that she was fucked by my husband, than you are sorely mistaken. If anything my whore of daughter seduced him, and he like turned her down, so she like made up some story. That’s all I’m’ma sayin’.”

Fine, if you want to live with the fact that your daughter was taken on her lunch hour and is probably now laying in a ditch somewhere, totally eviscerated and rapped then that’s your problem because I have never felt so much filth in my entire life than standing here with a retard and a pedophile.” Kendra yelled.

You fucking cunt.” Rico yelled.

Oh no yo’ didn’t,” Vezna said getting all up in Kendra’s face.

Didn’t I? Get some new material, the Latino-trash stereo type isn’t working for you.” Kendra responded.

OK, Kendra, it’s time to go.” Nick came between them.

Yeah get your bitch outta here.” Rico stated.

Thanks for your time.”

Fucker,” Kendra yelled for good measured as Nick pulled her out the front door.

He forced her in the car, “what the fuck is the matter with you?”

Sorry, I got a little mad.”

A little mad? You chest bumped the victims mother for crying out loud.” Nick stated.

Nick pulled out of the drive way. He couldn’t believe Kendra going off half-cocked like she had just done. He knew that she was a passionate person but that was too much. They needed to have a serious conversation about getting too personal with a case. He wasn’t sure what her reasons for flying off the handle that way but he needed her to tone it down.

I hate child molesters too, Kendra but sometimes you need to keep that opinion to yourself and then deal with it in private. It sucks and those people are disgusting but honestly, that could have been the only link to Vula and you just screwed it up.” He explained. “You can’t get to personal in a case.”

She was quiet for a bit, and her breathing slowed from the angry huffing sounds to a more calmer rate. “I know, and I’m sorry. I just couldn’t get over how horribly they spoke about their daughter who is missing.”

I know and I agree with stuff but insulting and almost assaulting them isn’t worth it. They could charge you and then your private investigator’s license will be taken away. Then what?” Nick turned the corner and hopped on the Interstate to get them back to Glenberry a bit faster.

You’re right. I will keep it in check from now on.”

Nick noticed that Kendra wouldn’t look at him. Something was weighing on her and it wasn’t just the case they were working on. If they were going to get through this, he needed to know what was making her so pissed off. And he asked her. To his dismay she didn’t hold back.

My step-grandfather died a few years ago from a serious stroke. He was in the hospital when it happened and it was sudden. While he was in there, my dad and his sisters found some child pornography on his computer.”

Not something you want to learn about a grandfather.” Nick said.

No it’s not,” Kendra continued to look out the window. “The night he died, my aunts told my father that my step-grandfather had molested them when they were about eleven years old. My dad went ballistic and threatened to tare the man’s heart out and shit. Before my dad even had a chance the bastard died.”

Nick pulled over and put the SUV in park. He grabbed her and pulled him to him. “Tell me he never touched you?”

She cried a bit on his shoulder, but managed to tell him that her step-grandfather never touched her. Kendra said having the police investigate her family at his funeral made everything that bit more real. She told Nick that was why hearing Rico and Vezna just shrug it off made her snap.

I understand.” Nick said, he pulled away and looked at her, his thumb wiping the tears from her cheeks. “Why don’t we switch cars, and stake out their house like we planned.”

Kendra was grateful for Nick’s understanding and his caring about something so far in the past, but she was even more grateful that he didn’t give her false sympathy. That was always something she hated no matter what the situation was for. She kept an eye on the Garcia house from the driver’s seat of her car. Nick had the binoculars and was watching closely. Surveillance turned out to be tougher on the Garcia’s as Rico would leave and come back and then Vezna would leave and return as well. Never did they leave together. That just didn’t sit right with Kendra.

I wish we could follow them when they leave,” Nick said voicing exactly what she had been thinking. “I don’t want to leave you here or have you follow them alone.”

I was thinking the same thing, but if I was to follow them, I wouldn’t have to get out of the car.”

True, but I don’t like it.”

That was that, she wouldn’t hear him tell her to go and follow. Not without him. “Their constant coming and going worries me. It’s strange that they would go nowhere together.”

Yeah it is.”

Kendra scribbled that down in her notes then took a sip of coffee. Nick wasn’t doodling like he had during their surveillance of the Ushkowitz’s house. He was taking notes. He must have realized how important this case was now that the molestation angle has been introduced.

Tomorrow, I am going to get in touch with the Children’s Services case worker on this case and find out what they can tell me about the accusation.” Kendra told him.

That’s a good idea. Maybe they have some physical proof of the charge. Although if there was, I would assume Rico Garcia would have been charged by the police.” He responded. “I should check with the police to see if anything came through regarding the charge.”

For the rest of the night the two of them sat in the car, watching and waiting. Finally around three in the morning and the house was dark, Nick suggested they go home. They got nothing they could use, which really pissed Kendra off. She could feel it in her bones that Rico and Vezna Garcia had something to do with their missing daughter. She would bet money on it.

Chapter 7:

Nick propped up a table inside of Kendra’s office. It was one of those portable deals, but they needed the extra work space. He looked over at Kendra who was sitting at her desk, head down while sifting through the file. No doubt she was trying to get a jump on organizing a time line for their case.

Hailey was locating a giant wipe board, apparently they borrowed one from the small advertising agency a few doors down. He looked down at his watch, and realized she had been gone for a while. Nick told Kendra he was going to see if Hailey needed any help, but she was too preoccupied with sorting to pay any attention to him.

Just as he suspected, Hailey was having issues with the board and was struggling to get it through the door.

Here, grab the door Hailey and I’ll maneuver it through.” He said as he rushed over to help her.

Thanks,” Hailey excepted his help. He wished that his dark haired beauty in the other room was this responsive. “Where’s Ken?”

Speak of the devil, “in the zone.” He eased the board on it’s wheels through the door, and eased it down the hall. “Where am I putting this?”

Hailey shrugged, “I have no idea. We usually put it in the back room, but Eli’s office is now there.”

A bit frustrated, he hollered, “Kendra!”

He heard a shuffling of paper then her chair squeak. Her head popped around the door, “yeah, what’s up?”

Where do you want this?” He asked.

She shot him a funny look, “Molly’s office I guess.”

What?”

Don’t get all pissy.”

Pissy? She hadn’t seen pissy from him yet. Nick forced a smile then grabbed the edge of the wipe board, and tried to pull it into Molly’s office. What Nick couldn’t figure out, is why they couldn’t just leave it in the reception area. He stopped what he was doing and asked.

Really?”

Jesus, here we go?” He mumbled to himself.

Kendre flew out of her office, “suppose someone comes in, and sees the the board and all the evidence we have collected.”

So?”

So?” She mimicked with her hands on her hips, “the case is confidential. If one of those supposed people were to know the Ushkowitz’s or the Ushkowitz’s themselves were to come in, then what?”

Nick leaned his butt next to Hailey’s against her desk, and folded his arms across his chest. Hailed was in the exact same position. Watching Kendra get over dramatic over a wipe board was entertaining as hell. Her cheeks were pink, eyes all glassy, and her hair was a mess. Come to think of it, it was a major turn on.

Sorry I don’t know. What?” He answered.

She stalked over to him on her new purple shoes, grabbed his face with her hands and squishing his cheeks together. Ken’s face mere inches from his, her eyes wide, “word gets out that this agency isn’t discreet and we lose clients.” She let go, then headed to her office. Hands fly up and she hollers over her shoulder, “in Molly’s office. Thank-you!

Once se was gone, Nick looked at Hailey, and they both started snickering to each other. “She always like that?”

Hailey patted his arm, “only when she’s really stressed out.” She pushed away from her desk and headed down the hall.

Nick got behind the wipe board, and began to direct it down the hallway. “So,” he checked Kendra’s office, the door was closed. “What else, other than stress, makes her like that?”

He watched Hailey very closely, her body language suggested that she wasn’t going to tell him. “Besides stress, exhaustion.”

Liar,” he smirked.

Fine,” she held the door to Molly’s office open for him. “Ken sometimes gets this way when she’s worried about a guy. Call it confusion or fear.”

Nick had no idea what she meant, but the door behind him opened so his inquiries would have to wait.

The muted voices outside her office door had set off warning bells in her head. Kendra didn’t want Hailey to accidentally tell Nick anything. The guy was a charmer and

had a way with getting the ladies to open up. It would take very little effort on his part to get Hailey to spill.

The three of them went through the material in Molly’s office. They needed to establish a time line in order to figure out where they needed to go next in their case.

First off,” Kendra began, “foster mother said that Vula leaves for school everyday at 8:15.” She scribbled that on the board. “Last Friday was no different.”

Homeroom was match,” Nick added, then waited for her to write that down. “Second period was Spanish.”

After Spanish, Vula met up with Layla Parker at her locker, before heading to lunch.” Hailey paused. “Layla told you that was the last time she saw Vula.”

Kendra finished writing was relayed to her from both Nick and Hails. “Then she met up with Elton Savidis, and he said they walked to Subway the restaurant for lunch.”

Nick flipped through some papers, “they ordered at noon and ate there. According to the sandwich maker, Vula and Elton left around 12:20, together.”

Elton last saw Vula going into the school to her locker. She never showed up to her third or fourth periods.” Hailey looked down, “third period was English and fourth period was gym. We are missing something.”

Kendra looked at Hailey, she knew that Hails would catch the investigating bug. She smiled. “We are indeed missing something, but what?”

The three of them added the background information on both the Garcia’s and the Ushkowitz’s, even after adding that information, none of them could come up with a thing.

I hate to say this,” Nick began as he leaned back in Molly’s chair, “I think we need to split up.”

Kendra raised a brow, she never thought she would hear him say that. “You sound like a Scooby-Doo episode.”

Nick laughed, “no shit, eh?” He sat up straight. “Kendra, take Hailey with you to the high school and talk to the principal and Elton again. See if he remembered anything more about last Friday.”

Ordinarily she would have been pissed that he highjacked her case, but he looked so cute doing it that Kendra let it go.

Ready Hails?”

As ready as I’m gonna be.”

Hailey had to tamp down her excitement as she sat next to Kendra in the Civic. She almost kissed Nick for suggesting that she tag along. Looking at her watch to make sure that there was plenty of time before she needed to pick up the kids after school. There was, but even if there wasn’t, she could always call her mother. Except that would lead to a whole bunch of questions.

Her pulse was speeding up, the closer they got to the high school, the more she had a hard time controlling her excitement. This was a whole new World for her.

The pulled up to the school and together they walked inside. Kendra asked to speak to the Principal and the secretary showed them into his office.

Hailey skimmed her vision around the office. The room itself wasn’t that large but he had a huge mahogany desk in the middle, with a green desk lamp, and high back leather chair. She and Ken were both sitting on uncomfortable chairs that had very little padding. The walls were dark wood panelling and didn’t help the room look any bigger. A set of filing cabinets lined the back wall, an antique globe sitting on top of the middle cabinet. She tugged on her lime green jacket as she adjusted her posture to match the confident stance Kendra had taken on.

She had known Kendra for over twenty years, and wasn’t used to seeing this side of her. Seeing her exude such confidence, made Hailey proud of the young woman next to her who was like a sister to her. Hailey found it refreshing to see that despite the hits to her confidence when she was younger, Kendra excelled in her job and lacked nothing.

The principal walked in and shook both their hands.

Principal Wiggins, this is Hailey Vance, she is one of our associates. We just have a few questions for you in regards to Vula Garcia.”

I would be very happy to help.”

Since Vula started in September, what kind of student was she?” Kendra asked.

Mr. Wiggins relaxed by leaning back in his chair and lacing his fingers together and resting them on his stomach. “She was a very dedicated student right from the first day. She’s a very smart girl.”

Hailey thought that was strange considering what she learned this morning while they were setting up the time line. “We were aware that Vula was acting out in that first month at home with her foster parents. Wouldn’t that be the same here?”

Kendra smiled at Hailey. She felt great that she managed to ask a clear question and get Kendra’s approval.

I’m aware of the problems at the start of the school year at home. The Ushkowitz’s came to me about her behavioral issues at home.” He leaned forward, placing his hands on the desk top. “She didn’t act out here at the school.”

Did Vula have any appointments with the Guidance department?” Kendra asked, but the answer was no.

They met with Principal Wiggins for about ten minutes as he needed to leave. He explained that he was filling in for one of the teacher’s. Other than learning that Vula only acted out at home for her foster parents, they didn’t learn anything new.

Hailey was learning that this was a lot like parenting. It required major patience, something you needed when you had two children who fought constantly. They headed through the corridors of the school. She was starting to feel frustrated.

When she first met Elton Savidis, it had been a few days ago at her sister’s wedding. He seemed like a man who had lived a tough life but was managing to get through it. She could see Elton as a fighter to do better and to get through his problems. Hailey hoped that he wasn’t linked to the kidnapping of Vula. He was family now, thanks to Eli.

Kendra knocked on the green painted door to the janitor’s room. Green flecks of paint fell off the door and on to the floor. She looked over her shoulder at Hailey and cocked an eyebrow.

The door screeched when it opened, echoing down the empty hall. All the students were in class.

Mr. Elton Savidis stood before them, his blue coveralls, relatively clean. He held a green handkerchief in his hands.

Why isn’t it my daughter-in-law’s lovely sister, and Nick’s enchanting girlfriend.” He beamed. Kendra’s shoulder’s stiffened at the girlfriend label. “What do I owe the pleasure?”

Hailey intercepted Kendra who was obviously gearing up to abandon all tact and just lay into him. “Elton, is it alright if we ask you a few more questions about last Friday with Vula Garcia?”

Ah,” he hesitated, making Kendra take notice. “Sure but I told Nick everything I know already.”

We’re just hoping that maybe Nick forgot to ask you certain questions.” Hailey told him. She was sensing that maybe this time she needed to step back and allow Kendra to handle it.

Mr…” Kendra began. But Elton stopped her and asked her to call him by his first name. “OK, Elton, was there anything out of the ordinary that took place during lunch? Anything Vula might have told you or strange behaviour?”

Honestly I don’t remember. It seemed normal to me.” Elton answered.

When you both returned to school, could you tell me about what happened then?” She asked.

Elton explained that he treated Vula to lunch, and together they walked back to school and she thanked him before going to her locker to get her books. She went into the front entrance. “and I haven’t seen her since.”

What did you do?”

I came back here to grab the hedge trimmers. There were some over-grown shrubs near the front entrance that needed some trimming.”

You didn’t go through the front doors where Vula had entered?” Kendra wondered.

No, I walked to the side entrance. Maintenance staff are not allowed to use the front entry.” He explained. “You’re not thinking that could have hurt her, do you?”

Hailey wondered how Kendra was going to handle this one. But she handled it just fine. “Elton, I don’t think you did anything wrong. What I’m trying to do is establish a time line to help me figure out where to go next.” Kendra assured him. “I will be honest with you, if I were a police detective, then I would probably have you as my number one suspect. Just because you were the last to see her. So look at it this way, the more evidence and understanding of Vula I can get, the more likely that when the police do come poking around, we can have you cleared right away.”

She told him not to worry and in turn, Elton walked them to their car, told them thanks and then headed back towards the side entrance of the school. Hailey had to give props to Kendra’s class at handling the situation. She used her objectiveness in the case and her honesty. A trait that Hailey will use if it comes to it.

Nick had driven all over Glenberry, checking on both sets of parent’s alibi’s for last Friday. Barb Ushkowitz was at a charity luncheon that she went to every Friday afternoon, and Mac Ushkowitz was at work, in the middle of a lunch meeting. It took him ten minutes to obtain each of their alibi’s but it took him much longer to establish Mr. And Mrs. Garcia’s. After waiting for surveillance footage of Vezna Garcia waiting in line at the bank for over a half an hour, right around 12:30, he ruled her out.

Harley’s Bar and Grill was a dive, but they had a reputation for having the best ribs and wings that rivaled that of Hooters. As Nick looked around, he determined that

the atmosphere definitely didn’t rival Hooters, and neither did the waitresses. At least at Hooters, the girls breasts were high and tight, and they had all their teeth. Here the women could tuck their boobs into their tube socks and were in desperate need of a denturist or dentist.

The place smelled of stale beer and dirty fryers. His stomach turned just as his feet stuck to the floor. He was going to need a shower after leaving this place.

Excuse me,” he started.

Yeah, what?” A grumpy, hairy guy with a doo-rag on his head snapped at him.

Is there anyone here who could tell me if Rico Garcia was working last Friday during the lunch rush?” Nick asked.

Yeah.”

Well, could I talk to him?”

The guy slammed down a shot glass that he was rubbing. Nick would have said polishing if he was in any other bar, but the rag this guy was using was not polishing anything. “You are. I’m Ralph the manager and I can tell you for certainty, that Rico Garcia was not working Friday. I fired him two weeks ago for stealing over a thousand bucks from me.”

Thanks I really appreciate it.” Nick turned around and left. No alibi for Rico. Now Nick had a new suspect.

Chapter 8:

Kendra put her feet up on the side of the tub, and watched the bubbles slide down her legs. She was so tired that she had to ask Nick for a rain check and give her the night alone. He didn’t question her, or bug her to reconsider, he simply gave her a soft kiss on her forehead, and told her to relax before saying good-night.

The scent of lavender from the bubbles, helped put her at complete ease. Her eyes gazed at the flame of the candles which sat on the window sill looking out into her back yard. She loved her claw foot bath tub. It was one of those deep, and wide ones with jets installed. It looked old but obviously it wasn’t. It fit into her country-chic home. The bouncing light from her candles had put her in a deep trance that she nearly missed the phone ringing. Reaching it with her wet arm beside her on a wooden stool, she answered it quickly.

Ken, I miss you so much,” chirped Molly in her ear. “Am I interrupting anything?”

Nope, just relaxing in the tub.”

With Nick?”

No, alone.” Kendra smiled. A bath with Nick sounded better than the showers they’d shared. And that was pretty fun. “If I was with someone, I wouldn’t have answered the phone at all.”

True. Anyways, I’m glad you talked us into Hawaii. It’s marvelous. It’s not too hot and not humid at all. In fact, there is this amazing breeze coming off the ocean. Oh and the Pina Colada’s are so delish, you would be in heaven.” Molly went on, “how’s the case? Find the girl yet?”

Glad I steered you right. Jealous, and extremely jealous in an all too sober way, and slow and no girl yet.” Kendra turned the hot tap on with her toe. She told Molly all that was going on, that they seem to be stuck on what happened to Vula after she was last seen. “Somehow Molls, this girl is connected to Eli’s father. He has some kind of roll in this but we don’t know what. He’s either her friend like he claims or he’s an enemy. I’m pretty hard press to think that he’s linked to her disappearance. Except there is not evidence that say he isn’t connected. It’s a bitch of a case, and there’s no ransom. We’re stuck Molls.”

Do you believe that Elton could do anything to the girl?” Molly asked.

Kendra turned the tap off with her toe, “not at all. I’m liking the step-father in this, but then again, we have no evidence to support that. Just that he lied about his alibi.”

Should be enough to get the police involved now, shouldn’t it?”

Not this time.” Kendra explained Vula’s record to Molly, and how the police are reluctant to help them find someone who they believe ran away on her own. “Even if we could, there is more evidence suggesting Elton is behind it than there is Rico.”

Crap, Kendra, I have to go. I can hear Eli coming and if he catches me on the phone, he’ll shit. Email me later chickie.” Molly hung up.

Kendra clicked off on her cordless phone and it slipped out of her hand and landed in the bath. “Shit!”

Molly hung up quickly, then ran barefoot over to the desk, making it just as her husband entered the room. She loved saying “husband”.

Booked our helicopter ride over the volcanoes for tomorrow afternoon.” He announced as he unbuttoned his white cotton shirt.

Another thing she would never get tired of, is looking at his strong, naked chest. “Yum, um I mean yay.” Eli smiled. “I got an email from Ken. The case isn’t moving along very fast.”

No? Why’s that?” Eli asked sitting on the bed, wearing nothing but his brown cargo shorts, and his sandals which he kicked off.

Your father is leading the suspects race, despite their reluctance to see it.” Molly told him. She hiked up her yellow sun dress and climbed on to his lap. Eli ran his strong hands firmly up her thighs and under her dress. “You don’t seem to concerned.”

I’m not,” he placed a kiss in between her breasts through the thin cotton material of her dress. “I know my father. He could never betray my mother. Not with a woman or a girl.”

Sounds sad.” Molly moaned.

Mm-hm,” Eli went to tug her dress down for better access, but she stopped him. “Hey, what gives?”

We’re talking here.”

So now I know what your father meant by, once you marry them the fun stops and the talking begins.” He laughed as she slapped his shoulder. “It’s not our case Molls, and we’re on our honeymoon, not at work.” He leaned forward but she jumped out his reach.

You’re right but you’re going to have to catch me first.” She ran to the other side of the king sized bed.

He did some bad pirate imitation, then chased her right out on to the patio and

into the sand. “Looks like ye lass is mine treasure. Open yar box.”

That is horrible.” Molly gasped before laughing. He shrugged. Horrible line aside, nothing Eli could have said would have stopped her from giving him her treasure box.

She looked relaxed this morning as she got into his car. Nick, however, was far from it. He tossed and turned all night long. Missing her. Kendra was wearing a very short navy blue mini skirt with a what looked to him like a light pink pin stripes running through the material. Kendra matched it with a strapless pink cashmere sweater set. The strapless bodice of the strapless tank top, made her breasts look huge. Nick was in hell.

He listened to Kendra chatter on about her conversation with Molly from the night before. He didn’t intentionally block her out, but the image he had of sticking his hand up her skirt was too overpowering to give a shit about what Kendra was saying. It was official, Nick was fourteen again.

Instead, he told him self to concentrate on getting to Child Services safe and sound and that they had a critical case to solve.

Finally, Kendra stopped talking and watched out the window at the scenery. He was so out of touch with the world right now, that he couldn’t figure out if she was mad at him for not paying attention or just quiet. Not to mention, Kendra’s signals were hard enough to read on a good day, never mind when he was distracted.

Nick.”

He could have sworn he heard his name.

Nick,” she yelled his name this time. He looked at her, “you missed the place.”

Fuck.”

Kendra laughed, “maybe if you weren’t so busy thinking about all the sex you missed last night, that we could salvage this investigation.”

How do you know what I’m thinking about?” He asked as he turned around in another businesses parking lot.

The sad look on your face and the bulge in your jeans.” She giggled.

Nick looked down at his lap. Damn, she’s good. “So you got a chance to relax, and I didn’t. It’s a sacrifice I was willing to make for you.” He paused, “a large, painful price to pay. For you.”

Aw that’s sweet of you.”

That was sweet? Gee, honey, you don’t get romanced too often do you?” He teased. She went quiet.

They sat across from Jane, a tall woman with a raspy voice, and blonde, neatly curled hair. She was looking up Vula’s case on her computer. The woman was pretty much heartbroken when she heard that Vula was missing.

She was troubled thats for sure, but once you’ve seen where she came from, you realize that the girl turned out better than you thought.” Jane explained. “Ah, here we go.”

Jane told them that Vula had gone to the police before going to the hospital but they refused to help her. “It took her going to the hospital and having a rape kit done to prove her story.”

But there was no arrest.” Kendra stated.

That’s the kicker,” Jane began, “there was physical evidence which collaborated her story but no biological evidence to verify her attacker. That’s when they handed Vula to us.”

How long was it until placement was found for her?” Nick asked.

Two months. I had her stay with me until then. Technically it was against the rules but I couldn’t send her back to that place. It just wasn’t safe for her.”

Nick hadn’t realized just how long the system took. He felt bad for Vula, realizing that for two months her life was full of uncertainty. That feeling was hell on a teenager. He had seen it many times when he worked as a beat cop.

What would have happened if there was no placement for her?” Kendra asked. Nick could tell by the look on her face that she was feeling the same way he was.

Jane looked sad, “she would have had to return home. In reality, Vula was extremely lucky. Nobody wants teenagers, the all want newborns or at least toddlers. Once children hit seven, they’re harder to adopt out.” She explained that the Ushkowitz had been foster parents for fifteen years, and always taken in the younger children, but were finding it harder and harder each time one of those children were found homes. “They figured they would have an easier time with a teenager because they usually leave on their own. The foster home they’re placed in, would likely have them for their entire teenage life. At eighteen, they usually move out. I knew that Mac and Barb would miss any child, no matter what age they take in. They are truly good people. I can verify that with how they are feeling with her disappearance.”

Nick found Jane to be very helpful. She not only explained Vula’s situation, and how the foster care system worked, but also the changes in Vula. “The girl is a beautiful young lady, and I swear that she wanted a better life for herself, that’s why I know she didn’t run off. She knew that where she was, she had it. The kids a fighter.”

I have to say Jane, that you have been of great help to us.” Kendra echoed his thoughts. “I doubt either of us truly understood how this system worked.”

Kendra’s right. With your help, we now have a more thorough understanding about the situation.” Nick added.

I’ll tell you this, Vula is lucky because foster parents like Mac and Barb are very rare.” Jane told them.

How so?” He asked.

Unlike the Ushkowitz’s, other foster parents are in it for the pay-off. The more children you take in, the more money the government gives you. Barb and Mac couldn’t have children so they do it for the love. They take in one child or one set of siblings at a time. Never more than that. They teach them how a real family is suppose to be. It’s not always easy, but they manage to help their foster children out. They have never failed an inspection, but their not perfect either.” Jane explained. “They are patient and loving and all they can do, is do their best.”

Kendra thanked Jane again for her help and handed her a card. Nick stood up and placed his hand on Kendra’s lower back to guide her out of Jane’s office. Without really trying, he got turned on from such a simple touch.

He had to fight for control over his body while they walked through the building. He looked down, but got a very good look at Kendra’s behind, and had to look back up again. Nick changed tactics, he began thinking about what Jane told them about the system. That deflated his problem.

Once he was securely inside his SUV, and she closed her door, “you and your damn sexy skirt.”

Wha…” Nick grabbed her, kissing her as passionately and desperately as he could. She tasted like watermelon, he pulled back and licked his lips. “Watermelon lip balm.”

I like it.” He went back to kissing her, thrusting his hand behind her neck and into her soft hair. He was just getting started when Kendra called a halt when he grabbed her boob through her shirt. Smooth move Nick, you really are back in high school aren’t you? He though to himself.

Nick, we are in a parking lot at Children’s Services. This is hardly the place to be doing this.” Kendra stated, then in a soft voice she clasped his hand, “take me home.”

Sweet beans he was back in business.

Chapter 9:

We do not work well together.” Kendra mentioned as she fastened her bra clasp while standing at the foot of his bed.

Her hair was a mess, the chocolate strands fell over her shoulders, and one thin strand was stuck to her cheek. Nick walked over, and gently tucked it behind her ear. The woman before him was more vulnerable than she allowed anyone to see. He could tell that because of how she refused to look at him while they were making love.

I think we work great together,” he said tenderly. Kendra tore her gaze away from his. She stared at his chest instead. “You alright?”

Kendra stepped back out of his reach and bent over to pick up her skirt. Her pink lace panties stretching tight around her bottom. For some reason she always pulls away after sex or she wants more. She confused him.

Ken?”

With a huff she stood up straight, “I’m fin. That’s the problem.”

I’m sorry, I’m not following.”

Nick, what I’m saying is, I feel so guilty that I am feeling so great and that we are having fantastic sex, but we are suppose to be looking for a missing girl.”

That I understand.” That wasn’t it but he was going to let it go for now. Nick took her hand, sat down on the end of his bed and pulled Kendra to his lap. “I’m going to be blatantly honest here. Either Vula ran away and doesn’t want to be found, or she’s dead already.”

She leaned her head on his shoulder, “are we wasting our time with this case?”

No, her foster parents need answers and it’s our job to provide them.”

Kendra lifted her head. He could tell by her breathing that she had just thought of something, “there’s one place we haven’t looked yet.”

Where?”

Vula’s locker.”

Sometimes sex generated her thought process. If it wasn’t for sex with Nick an hour ago, Kendra might not have thought about Vula’s locker. The most obvious place to start looking for clues to her whereabouts. Now she was watching the muscles in Nick’s

arms flex as he cut the lock off her locker.

They were going to empty out the contents into a box, then check it for anything once it’s empty. She practically had to force Nick to wear gloves before even touching the lock. She planned to dust for prints and keep them just in case the police finally took an interest or when they needed to turn the case over to the police.

It smells in here,” commented Nick as he used a flash light to take a quick look.

Kendra took a deep breath, “it’s bleach.”

He looked at her from over his shoulder, “you cans smell that from where you’re standing?”

Yes. I have an acute sense of smell. I could tell that someone had farted in the elevator at your condo prior to us getting on it, and you didn’t.” She smiled.

A woman after my own heart,” he laughed. “So you have an acute sense of smell, can you tell where the bleach was used initially?”

Probably,” she put the box down and used her nose to find where the higher concentrated level of bleach was used. She moved right to Vula’s locker. “If you crack any blood hound jokes right now, I’ll kick you in the little Nicky’s.”

The strongest scent of the bleach was inside Vula’s locker, but to be sure she sniffed around the lockers on either side of Vula’s. Nothing. As she looked and smelled Vula’s locker once more, she noticed two things. “The bleach is coming from inside her locker. Not only is the smell stronger in here, but the bleach ate away at the cheap paint on the shelf.”

Nick leaned in to take a look. “Very good, you deserve a Scooby snack.”

Kendra shot him a look of unamusement, but deep down inside she love the Scooby-Doo reference. “And could you hand me the tweezers and two plastic baggies from inside my purse, please and thank-you.”

What is it?” He asked as he dug around her giant designer handbag.

I’m gonna grab a chip of paint in case the police need it for trace, if there’s any on it, and there’s a hair that is stuck in the metal seams. It’s dark like Vula’s. She told him. Her right arm was getting tired as she held it out behind her for what seemed like forever. “Ah, Nick, find the stuff?”

Ah, yeah I did.” He placed them in her hand.

Kendra picked up the chip of paint and put it inside the baggie, then tweezed the hair as carefully as she could in case there was a skin tag on it from the seam of the shelf

and locker wall. She held it up to the flash light, “definitely not long enough to be mine, but it’s good for DNA.”

He suddenly had gone real quiet behind her. She stood up, and turned around. He handed her the box. “Start packing it up, we’ll go through it later.”

No problem, I need to print the locker after.”

Nevermind that. We know what we’ll find. Just her prints.” Nick snapped. “I’m going to talk to Elton.”

Confused, she allowed him to walk away. Kendra filled the box with her books, pictures from the door, a make-up bag, a red handkerchief. She turned the handkerchief over in her hands. It was strange to find one in a teenagers locker.

Nick couldn’t believe what he found in Kendra’s purse. While he was shuffling around, her wallet unsnapped and he caught a glimpse of a picture of her with Matt. Smiling, in each other’s arms. They looked perfect together. Nick was jealous of Matt. The guy was over six-feet tall, and very muscular. Nick was not even five-ten, and he was cut but lean. Matt looked like he could protect Kendra better than he could. That thought just made Nick want to punch the son of a bitch out.

It also made him feel sick to his stomach because the woman he loved kept a picture of her ex-boyfriend in her wallet. The picture looked fairly recent. He would love to snoop around her house to see if there were anymore. Like a box of mementos or something.

As he walked towards the maintenance room, it occurred to him that he hasn’t established what his relationship was with Kendra. For all he knew, maybe she viewed as simply sexual. Maybe for her it’s nothing than just scratching an itch. That thought grated on his nerves.

Nick had a job to do. Now wasn’t the time to be thinking how he was feeling about Kendra. He knocked on the door to the room where the janitorial staff ate and worked out of, but there was no answer.

He turned the door knob and entered the room, calling for Elton. There was no response, as he scanned the room. The door to the washroom was open and the kitchenette were they prepared their lunches and dinners if they were on the evening staff, was all clean. The carts with supplies were gone. He took careful look at the gardening tools for any signs of blood or hair. All were clean. Then he took a close look at any cleaning products in a supply room. No bleach at all.

Casually, Nick wondered around, taking mental note of everything. He picked up a girly magazine off the coffee table in front of a tattered couch. Not a nude magazine but bikinis on cars type of magazine. He didn’t want to invade Elton’s privacy by going

through his locker without his permission but time was of the essence, Kendra would be there at any moment.

There was no lock on the lockers which made it easier for Nick to get in and look around. Opening the locker, he was greeted by a photo of Elton smiling happily with Eli and Molly at their wedding. His locker was neat and tidy. On the top shelf was a card from Subway with four stamps needed out of ten before he could get a free sub, next to his car keys, wallet and package of hankies. His street clothes were hanging neatly on the hooks, and on the bottom were his running shoes, a folded up newspaper sitting on top of a few magazines, and something pink.

Nick shined his flash light into the locker, and noticed that it was a pink metallic clip.

Hey, how many girls carry red handkerchiefs?” Kendra asked as she walked into the room.

Hey Ken, can I borrow your tweezers?” She handed him the tweezers, “thanks.”

What is it?”

He held up the clip, with a hair. “Damaging evidence.” Nick watched as Kendra dug through her purse for another Ziplock bag. She handed it to him and he put the hair clip inside. “What was it that you asked?”

Kendra handed him a Ziplock bag with the red handkerchief inside, then repeated her question to him. He reached up on to the top shelf and picked up the package he had seen earlier.

Six in a package, and there are two missing. I saw him with one the other day, and it wasn’t red.” Kendra pulled out one of the newer ones and matched the pattern to the one she found in Vula’s locker.

Nick looked over her shoulder at the handkerchiefs. The patterns matched, and that worried him. “There are tons of these sold every day, this doesn’t prove Elton’s behind this.”

It doesn’t, but Nick, I’m going to be honest here, this doesn’t look good for him.”

No it doesn’t,” he picked up the box she had carried in full of Vula’s locker contents. “Lets go and get this stuff sorted.

Kendra closed Elton’s locker and followed behind him as they headed out to his car. Nick dreaded having to tell Eli that his father might be guilty of kidnapping and possibly murder. And God knows what else.

As they got to the car, Kendra opened the back hatch with his keys, “are we

good?”

Nick put the box inside, “we,” he stopped when he saw Elton walk around the corner, “I’ll be right back.”

He ran across the parking lot and called out to Eli’s father, who stopped and waved. Nick grabbed his arm and pulled him away from the office windows.

Tell me you didn’t hurt that girl?” Nick asked through gritted teeth.

What? Nick, I would never.”

Swear to me that you had nothing to do with Vula’s disappearance.”

I never touched her. I have children of my own you know.” Elton swore. “I want this girl home with her foster parents just as much as they and you do. Where she belongs.”

Nick just stared at him. He knew deep down inside that Elton wasn’t behind it but he wanted to be sure. The evidence was piling up against him, but the man genuinely cared for the girl. His next statement proved it.

I treated Vula like a daughter Nick. She worked hard in school because she didn’t want to be her mother. She was already picking out her colleges. How could anyone take that away from her?” Elton told him wholeheartedly.

Nick nodded and headed back to the car. Kendra was watching him. As he walked towards her she closed the hatch to his vehicle. His heart was pounding so hard in his chest he thought it was going to punch its way out. He was running on pure adrenaline.

He grabbed her purse, without taking his eyes off hers. She was stunned. He reached in and pulled out her wallet, dropping the bag on the ground. “Does he still mean anything to you?” Nick held open her wallet to the picture of Matt and shoved it at her.

No Nick, we’re just friends, and that’s an old picture.” She reached to grab her walled but he pulled it back.

Get rid of it, and we’ll be fine.” He let her have her wallet back by tossing at her once he closed it. He walked around to the driver’s side and got in, leaving her standing there in awe.

Chapter 10:

Nick had some major balls going through her purse like that right in front of her. Kendra picked up her bag from the ground and put her wallet inside as she headed to the passenger side of Nick’s SUV.

The angry side of the man who was usually laid back, had a strange affect on her. She was turned on by the man sitting next to her at the steering wheel. But she was also pissed right off. Ken understood that he had the right to be pissed off at her keeping an old photograph in her wallet, but to ask, no demand her to get rid of it, was going too far.

If Nick thought that he could get away with being angry, than he had no idea what he was up against. Nobody told what she could and couldn’t do. She was fine with him asking about the photo and even being mad at her. He should realize that she would have just took it out without him demanding her to. Now Kendra was tempted to leave it in there just to spite him. Besides, who the hell was he to demand that she do anything?

He was silent all the way to her house, and so was she. When Nick turned off the engine it surprised her that he thought he was coming in, but she wasn’t about to let him.

Nick pulled his keys out of the ignition, and she asked “what are you doing?”

We’re going inside.” He answered.

No, I’m going in, you are going home or where ever.” Kendra got out of his car. No surprise he followed her.

Are you mad at me?” He asked with a high level of disdain.

Yes Nick, I am.” Kendra walked up the steps to her porch.

You don’t get to be angry here,” he stated. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

She turned and looked down at him from the top of the step, “you went through my purse and wallet right in front of me.”

First off, I saw the photo when you asked me to go in your purse for the tweezers. Your wallet was open and I saw it. Secondly, why are you carrying around a photograph of an ex-boyfriend?” He yelled.

Oh she couldn’t believe this, “I didn’t even realize that it was still in there. Next time just ask, don’t grab, then throw my bag on the ground. And…”

And what Kendra? What am I suppose to think when you’re fucking me, and carrying him around in you wallet?”

I have already told you that you have nothing to worry about. Guess you don’t

really know what you’re thinking if you think that we are just fucking.” Kendra looked up to see some of her neighbours walking on the sidewalk in front of her house.

She turned around and unlocked the front door. She could hear Nick’s footsteps come up behind her. He whispered in her ear, “honey, we are more than just fucking, and you know it.”

His lips lightly grazing her ear, and his breath tickling her neck, made Kendra’s panties damp.

Never demand anything of me, Nick. If you want me to remove that photo, then just ask me.” Kendra responded breathlessly.

Nick pushed himself against her, as she finished turning the key in the lock. He was hard and she could feel every inch of him. He put his hands on hers, stopping her from opening the door. “You’re feistiness, is so sexy.” Kendra felt his lips touch the back of her neck as his free-hand held her hair to the side along with the collar of her jacket.

The sooner we get in the house, the sooner I can get naked.”

Nick opened the door and pushed her inside. As he pushed, Kendra pulled his coat down around his arms.

Once she had Nick inside her house, their fight igniting the spark of their sexual appetite. Lucky for her the dogs were occupied by the two marrow bones she tossed out of her purse and into the living room. They left for the bones pretty much the moment Nick and Kendra burst through the door.

She pushed Nick up against the wall, kicking the front door closed with her foot. For the second time today, Kendra would be shedding her clothes.

As fast as her hands could work, Kendra had Nick’s pants gone, then his socks. He helped her along by removing his dress shirt and the white t-shirt he sported under it. From her squatted position in front of him, with her skirt bunched around her hips, and the way she looked up at him, she figured she must have looked like a porn queen in the middle of shooting.

She didn’t care because she was so incredibly horny, and his huge cock was right in front of her. Kendra may as well act the part, starting by running her tongue up the length of him. Nick’s hands reached for the chair rail along the wall for balance. Slowly she took him into her mouth, just a little bit at a time. She loved the feel of him, heavy and strong, warm and smooth. Kendra pulled back and looked up at him. His head was back against the wall, staring at the ceiling, and his knuckles were turning white to keep him from coming.

Kendra ran her finger nail up his calf, and behind his knee. He shivered. The added sensation made him let out a groan. She put her lips on him again, this time taking

all of him. Sucking as she drew him all the way in.

Nick’s breath grew very ragged and she knew that he was close. His hands landed in her hair and he tugged her gently. They were so sexually tuned into each other’s bodies, that she stood up, and quickly removed her panties, as Nick pulled her skirt up further, then her top and bra down.

He picked her up easily and Kendra wrapped her short legs around his slim waist as he backed her against the wall. They were unprotected and she knew it. Kendra felt him enter her body in a slow, but slick motion.

Nick, we aren’t covered.” How she managed to get that out, she’ll never know. The sensation of him, skin on skin, felt amazing.

At the moment, I don’t care. I’ll pull-out.”

Oddly, I’m not worried, and I’m on birth control.” She clung on to him, getting so close she practically became his skin. “Oh God Nick. Harder, faster.”

Her demands were met, and her backside kept hitting the chair rail. The brief thought came through her head that was probably not the reason why her grandfather had installed them. If she wasn’t in the middle of an orgasm, she would have laughed.

Once that orgasm was finished, she received another one, almost immediately. This time, Nick joined her.

With a grunt and a final hard thrust, he pinned her against the wall. Kendra felt his breath in her ear, but she could have sworn he just said, “elephant shoe.”

Kendra pulled the white sheet up around their naked bodies as Nick nattered on about Elton Savidis. She wasn’t really in a case mood but he clearly wasn’t thinking straight. Likely he was remembering about how guilty she felt earlier about not working on the case. He was ping-ponging theories back and forth as he drew circles with his thumb on her hip. One sentence Nick was positive Elton was guilty and the next he knew that Elton couldn’t possibly be do something like this.

All she could think about was if they had more evidence on Rico Garcia, they could follow that lead more closely. She was formulating a plan.

Eventually Nick drifted off to sleep, leaving the opportunity for Kendra to put her plan in motion. The moment he rolled over, Kendra carefully got out of bed, and slipped on a pair of black yoga pants, a tank top, and grabbed a hoodie and a pair of flip-flops and carried both to the front door. As carefully as she could, as to not wake up the dogs and Nick, she opened the front door and left. Stopping to put on her flip-flops and to zip up her hoodie.

She pulled her car out of the driveway and headed towards Yardley. She probably

should have grabbed her gun. Yardley at night was pretty sketchy.

Kendra was working on a hunch, and maybe a little hope. She pulled up to the curb across from the Garcia’s shack, as she liked to refer to it as, and got out. Shutting her door, but not making any noise.

Carefully and quietly, she crept up the drive way, and peered into the lime green Pinto that was parked first in the driveway. The windows were tinted, but it was a do-it yourself job as some of the tint was peeling or bubbling in some places.

She shined her flash light into the car and thought to herself that it was a wonder these people weren’t dead with all the fast food wrappers littered in the back seat. As Kendra headed towards a second car, a tacky gold Ford Taurus, parked ahead of the Pinto closer to the dilapitated garage, the front door opened. She ducked into the bush, praying that there wasn’t a skunk in there.

Both Vezna and Rico came out. Vezna was carrying keys. Kendra could hear the metal clinking together. She was saying something to Rico, and Kendra had to strain to hear. “I don’t care what you think Rico, Vula is my daughter and I want to find out what these people did to her.”

Rico yelled back, “get back in here Vez. That lying bitch of a daughter is better off where ever she is.”

She’s my daughter Rico.”

Vula owes you everything, and you gave her everything that you could give to that little cunt. Look how she’s repaid you?” Rico questioned. His potty mouth doing nothing to impress Kendra. She’s heard worse while playing UNO with Molly. Hell, she’s said worse playing UNO with Molly. Amature, she thought to herself.

Vezna Garcia was almost down the steps, her back to Rico. “I just want to know what those foster people know.”

No you ain’t going any where.” Rico pointed to the door of the house, “now do what I say.”

Kendra was really hoping that Vezna would defy the greasey pig standing on the porch and get in the car, but she didn’t. No surprise really. Vezna turned around and went back inside with Rico.

She looked down at her cell phone, an hour passed by so quick, but she needed to get home as soon as possible in case Nick woke up.

Chapter 11:

One eye opened, then closed again. The sun broke right through the wood blinds along the back doors which lead to the pool. The glare was blinding. Nick rolled away from the sunlight, and found himself nose to the muzzle of a pugged nosed and a bad over-bite belonging to a bulldog. Hardy opened his mouth and flicked his tongue out. The dog had better morning breath than his ex-girlfriend, but it was still pretty rank.

The dog rolled on to his back, thrusting all four legs into the air. With the dog now breathing away from him, Nick could smell coffee. And, saw dust? Maybe he was having a stroke.

Slowly he sat up, then waddled to the ensuite bathroom to take care of morning duties. He washed his hands and then grabbed his jeans from the floor and pulled them on.

Fresh coffe and fresh blueberry muffins sat waiting for him on Kendra’s counter. How did he manage to sleep through the smell of baking?

He was enjoying that first sip of coffee when he heard a scrapping sound. Nick followed it to the basement, and in the middle of all that noise and wood, was Kendra, along with Sheldon and Megan. Sanding pieces of wood. Pink fiber glass installation was neatly tucked into the wall frame and sheets of dry wall leaned up against the walls. Ready to be installed.

His girl, wearing denim over-alls and covered in saw dust, was so cute. Her hair was in braids going down each side of her shoulders, but the shorter pieces of hair were whisping out.

Sheldon’s blonde hair was covered in a do-rag, and his older sister’s hair mimicked her aunt Kendra’s.

What are you guys doing?” He asked as he sat down on the stairs.

Morning,” smiled Kendra.

Sheldon came over, “uncle Nick, you owe me ten bucks. The Bruins lost that game against the Maple Leafs.”

Damn the kid was great with money. Never forgot a thing. Nick was never that good at money management at ten. Not like Sheldon was. “My wallets upstairs. I’ll slide you a note later.” Sheldon gave him a look, “kid, I’m good for it.”

Where’s your shirt uncle Nick?” Sheldon asked. “Cha’ lose it in another bet?”

Sheldon, you don’t ask that to adults.” His sister scolded. “He and aunt Ken were having a sleep over.”

Nick caught Kendra’s eye. She gave him a wink followed by a little shrug.

Kendra found Nick’s embarrassment really sexy. He had excused himself and took off back up stairs when the kids started asking questions about what adults do on sleepovers. He had panicked, but she knew the questions were Megan’s entertainment. She was a smart twelve year old and watching Nick squirm was fun for her. And for Kendra too.

After his shower, he re-joined them in the basement. He paid Sheldon in full, and then promised him another ten if he helped Nick with the dry wall. The kid was all over that project.

The front door opened and Chewbacca took off from the top of the stairs. He wasn’t the type of dog to get drywall or saw dust in his hair.

Nick looked at her, his eyes asking her who was there. “Molly and Eli, I believe.”

Already?”

It’s been a week.” She answered. “Hey Shel and Meg, why don’t you go harass your aunt Molly and Uncle Eli and see what they brought you from Hawaii.”

The two kids took off at a run up the stairs, fighting each other to see who would get their gifts first.

Kendra stood up, brushed her hands on her hips. She pulled him by the belt closer to her. “If I were you, I’d kiss me quickly before they all come down here.”

Gladly baby,” he leaned his head down and his lips caressed hers before turning the kiss into fierce and fiery. His mouth and hers were two perfectly fitting puzzle pieces.

Kendra heard the first foot step and reluctantly pulled back with a low groan.

As the girls were yapping in the basement, Nick and Eli took the dogs for a walk. He really wanted to talk to Eli about the case, just to hear what his thoughts were.

Chewbacca was next to Eli’s leg the entire time, behaving. Hardy, however, was scrambling ahead, determined to pull Nick’s arm right out of it’s socket.

As Nick tried to maintain control of the dog, he told Eli all about the damaging evidence they had against his father.

First off, the handkerchief could have come from anywhere. That’s circumstantial evidence that would likely be useless in court.” Eli stopped to allow

Chewbacca to lift his leg on a mailbox.

What about the hair clip?” Nick asked.

Could be anyones. For all we know he found it while sweeping. It’s not like we can test the hair for DNA. None of us are qualified.” Eli answered.

You’re right man, I just didn’t know how to proceed.”

Eli stopped walking, put a friend hand on Nick’s shoulder, “keep an eye on the step-father. Steer your focus away from my father for the time being. If he is guilty, then once all your other leads are completely exhausted, then go back to my father.”

I could really use your help on this.” Nick rand his hand through his short, curly hair.

Wish I could, but he’s my father so therefore it’s a conflict of interest.” They kept walking, “I can assist at surveillance of the step-father’s activities.”

He smiled, “I might just take you up on that.”

Alex drove Hailey back to Kendra’s to pick up their kids. He really wasn’t counting on Molly and Eli being there. He assumed they would be back at their place, getting settled in after their long trip home. With them here now, his chance to pick up the kids and go were gone. He loved seeing his sister-in-law and brand new brother-in-law, but with Hailey acting all weird and talking about the case, he didn’t want them talking business. He was getting worried.

The day was perfect for April weather, and they decided to sit outside, gathered at Kendra’s patio table in her back yard. Hailey helped Molly and Kendra make coffe and carry it out.

Just as he feared, talk of the case surrounded him coming from everyone, except the children. They were discussing evidence and the time line they created. He couldn’t understand how the foster parents or parents were feeling in the case but he did know that it was his worst nightmare.

Alex doctored his coffe as he sent warning looks to Hailey. He was sure that his wife was more involved than what she was letting on. She should be nowhere near it. Maybe he should have a man-to-man talk with Nick before they left.

When Kendra and I talked to Elton, he seemed genuinely concerned,” Hailey mentioned during their conversation.

Never go by that Hails,” Eli said, “it’s gotten us in more than enough trouble before.”

That was all he needed to hear, he pushed his coffee away and stood up. “Hailey, we need to get going.”

Alex we are right in the middle of a conversation.”

Now please, I need to talk to you.” Alex turned and headed through the house, leaving no room for discussion.

Yardley was dingy. The small town held zero appeal for Nick, but the place housed the past of his best friend sitting next to him in his buddy’s jeep.

The streets had garbage clogging up the storm drains, and almost every time Nick had to drive through here, there was at least one store manager scrubbing graffiti off their store fronts. He liked to refer to it as the Black Abyss of Maine.

Elton Savidis live in a bachelor apartment in some hole in a wall building. Except that description pretty much described any building in Yardley. Nick was pretty sure there were cockroaches in Elton’s apartment.

They arrived at the building, and Eli cracked some joke about the place looking cleaner than when he last saw it. He laughed at his own joke until they entered the building. “I stand corrected.”

No you were probably right. The inside is so filthy because all the shit that was on the outside came in to get away from itself.” Nick told him. Then he could have sworn he saw something scurry down the hall, “oh, my crap in a hat, was that a rat?”

Eli looked at him, “reading Dr. Seuss again there buddy?”

Nick shot him an annoyed look, then pressed the elevator button. “Nice security.”

He was good at sarcasm, but Eli was better, “yeah they upgraded.”

Nick looked around the lobby, the front door was wide open, all the mailboxes along the one wall were opened and trashed. “How so?”

They installed locks on the mailbox doors. Before that they were just cubbies open for all the riff-raff to steal your mail.”

He looked again, half the doors were pried off. “I see.” They stepped on the elevator.

It was a Saturday so they knew that Elton would be at home. Eli wanted to surprise his father, not because he was back from his honeymoon, but because he could catch Elton drinking. In the last few months, Eli had yet to catch him.

Nick let Eli do the honours and pound on the door. A few moments later the door swung open. Elton was wearing a blue and tan bowling shirt, a pair of khaki pants and his hair was neatly combed. Elton looked like he had a date.

The moment he saw his son, he puled Eli into a hug. Nick felt awkward since he didn’t have a father. Just a step-father. Jealous summed up how he was feeling quite nicely.

How was Hawaii?”

Amazing dad, thank-you.”

How is my stunningly, gorgeous daughter-in-law?” Elton asked his son.

Eli headed to the refrigerator and opened it. Nick knew he was checking it for beer. “Water, Nick?”

No, thanks.”

Nick, sit down and make yourself comfortable.” Elton gestured to the couch.

Against his better judgement, Nick took a seat. He could swear that a spring just poked him.

So dad,” Eli began as he pulled a plastic chair over from the kitchen table. “Nick tells me that you are involved in this missing girls case.”

Elton looked at Nick. The look on his face was disappointment. Nick figured that he thought Nick wouldn’t tell Eli. In a way he hadn’t. Kendra told Molly and Molly told Eli.

I just happened to be the last one to see her alive, is all.”

Why are you hanging around teenage girls dad?” Eli asked point blank.

The question was blunt, and the look on the elder Savidis’ face told Nick that it made him nervous. Eli was always better at interrogating than Nick was.

I…I’m just friends with her. She’s a good kid Eli. That girl says hello every day, and treats me like a human being, unlike the rest of the high school students there.” Elton explained. “That girl treats me better than my own sons.”

Dad,” Eli was cut off.

No Elliott, it’s true. Eddie purposely says nasty things and snide comments about me, right in front of me. Eric is the biggest mooch ever and only comes to see me when

he needs something. And you,” he paused, “you’re ashamed of me.”

Elton,” Nick butted in, against his better judgement. “That isn’t true. I know for a fact that he is so proud of you. He’s said it more than a few times just recently. He’s not ashamed of you. If anything he spent years worrying about you. Now he feels like he doesn’t have to worry. He’s proud of that and you.”

Dad, he’s right. I am more than proud of you. You’ve worked so hard to get your life in order, and despite Eddie and Eric’s major faults, you raised three boys. Alone. That is one hell of an admirable trait.

The mushy stuff was killing Nick so he decided to tune them out. They had issues to work out and he was about to mentally give father and son the privacy by concentrating on the springs quest to become one with his bum. He tried to move over, but the damn spring followed him.

Nick?” Eli snapped his fingers in front of his face, “Nicholas, are you with me?”

Uh, yeah. I was just mentally giving the two of you some space.”

For the next hour, they explained all the evidence that Nick and Kendra had collected and how it made him look guilty. Elton gave the impression that he didn’t care about what they had. He simply didn’t do it.

I have the hair clip to give back to Vula. I found it on the floor by her locker last Friday. She was wearing ones just like it when we went for lunch that day.” He explained. “As for the handkerchief,” he reached in his lunch bag, “here’s the red one, and here’s the blue one over there. The one you have is not mine.”

How do we know?” Nick asked.

Because any used one of mine, will have snot in ’em. You can test them for my DNA if you’d like.” He answered. “I would never give a lady or a girl, a snot rag.”

Eli looked at Nick, as if that logic were enough to clear him because it made sense. Nick hated to admit it, but it did.

Chapter 12:

The weekend ended quickly and that bummed Kendra out. Nick spent it at her place, and the spent it alternating between working on her basement, with sex then work on the case and more sex.

As for her stealthy exit Friday night, Nick called her on it. Apparently she did a good job until she turned her car on. Since he knew, she decided to tell him everything that she learned from that night.

Except now it was Monday, and he had moved the wipe board from Molly’s office, into hers. This case was their number one priority and judging from her office, there was no room for another.

She had come in early with Nick, who was now out running some errands, to work on the case. Kendra got to work categorizing all of Vula’s locker contents. Going through each item one by one, putting them on the table that was now pushed to the other side of the room. Photographing and putting together an inventory for when things needed to go to the police or her foster parents, they would know what was there and what wasn’t. Kendra was currently flipping through Vula’s text books looking for any little scraps of paper when there was a knock at her office door.

Come in,” she called out.

There was so much stuff in her office that the wipe board took up a lot of room and the opening door banged against the wheels. There was just enough room for her visitor to squeeze through. When that person finally appeared it was Jane from Child Services.

Jane, hello. I’m really sorry for the mess,” she began as she stood up to clear a chair for her to sit in.

Jane looked all around the room. Her mouth agog. “I’m sure your office is awesome but looking at all the work that you are doing in order to find Vula is so over powering.”

She’s priority.” Kendra motioned to the newly cleared off chair.

Vula’s a great kid with a big heart, if she knew all of what you were doing and how many people were looking for her, she would be touched.”

Kendra sat back down at her desk. She liked Jane a lot but she learned all too well that sometimes you like the wrong person, and that the person who is all too willing to help, will inject themselves into the investigation and end up being the guilty party. And maybe Jane wasn’t a bad person, but Kendra wondered if Jane would go beyond limits to protect Vula, and kidnap her herself in order to get her away from her parents and the system. Kendra decided to engage in subtle questioning.

What was Vula like?”

Jane crossed her legs, “I know that she tried to treat everyone as equals, and that she has her life mapped out. Vula told me that she could do that now that she was with the Ushkowitz’s.”

Do you mind if I record our conversation? Anything you can tell us, may help us out a lot.” She got permission then hit record on the computer. “Mapped out how?”

She looked comfortable. Jane’s posture suggesting that she wasn’t hiding anything, and that could be true but with female suspects they were harder to figure out than males. “Vula had specific goals set up to achieve. She wanted to make the honour roll, and graduate with honours at the top of her glass. She wanted to become student body president and attend prom, and join the debate team next year. She wanted to build herself a better life.”

Did she have her post-secondary education planned as well?”

Yes she did.” Jane nodded. “Vula wanted to attend Sarah Brown College. Her plan was to obtain a degree in women’s studies and psychology. She wanted to help victims of abuse. Especially children.”

Very impressive Kendra thought. At Vula’s age, Kendra was too busy dodging seniors to think about lunch, let alone plan the next four-plus years.

I finally got the reports from the police this morning regarding her step-father, Rico Garcia. It’s very telling and I thought you might be interested.” She handed Kendra a folder.

Kendra opened the folder and carefully read through the first few pages of its contents. What she read shocked her. It was almost incredible that both she and Nick missed this detail.

Kind of eye opening isn’t it?” Jane questioned.

And they ignored Vula’s plea for help.” She shook her head. “I sincerely hope the police get some major heat from this.”

I agree with you completely. I think I might go to the media about the shotty police work in the case after you’ve found her.” Jane stood up, and adjusted her purse strap.

That is a great idea and I’m sure we would back you up, providing Nick doesn’t have a problem with it since he was a former detective for that precinct.” Kendra put the file down, “is it alright if I make a copy of this?”

Jane held up her hand, “no need. That one is yours. I made a copy for you.”

Thank-you. I highly appreciate that.” Kendra followed the social worker out of her cramped office.

Kendra,” she stopped and turned around. With her voice lowered, “she’s not going to be found alive, is she?”

She wonder if Jane knew something or was just privy the statistics of missing children. “I hope we do, but I doubt it Jane.” Kendra placed a comforting hand on Jane’s arm, “I’m really sorry.”

Don’t be. I appreciate the fact that you were just honest with me, and that you and Nick took the case with deck stacked against you guys. You both are still pursuing it and that says a lot about your integrity.” With that, Jane turned and walked out of the office.

Kendra turned to Hailey. She was just getting in. “Rough morning?”

Hailey looked stressed, “sorry for being late. Sheldon wouldn’t get dressed this morning, or eat, then he missed the bus.”

No worries. Is everything alright?”

Oh, you mean about Alex’s temper-tantrum at your place on Saturday?” Hailey sat down at her desk. “Yeah it’s resolved. He was just worried about me in this job. He kept yammering on about your a mother, not a super hero.

Funny, I thought mom’s and super heros were one in the same?” She smiled.

Ha, too true sista.”

So we need to keep you out of the field?”

Yeah pretty much.” Hailey answered. “I liked it though. It was so exhilarating and fun. It helped to make my day more exciting.”

Kendra sat on the corner of Hailey’s desk, “did you tell him that?” she shook her head. “Then my advice to you is to tell him how much fun it is and that not every case had danger involved. Tell him that it makes your day more interesting.”

Thanks honey.”

Any time.” Kendra headed to her office.

Nick wasn’t looking forward to his trip back to the Garcia’s. Especially after what

Kendra showed him. For the first time in his life he was ashamed of his police back-ground.

He also had the difficult task of keeping Kendra from striking out physically and verbally. Although she promised earlier, he had his doubts. Hell, he didn’t trust himself not to do those same things.

Vezna was home by herself and she allowed them into her home. She seemed more relaxed this tima and Nick figured it was because Rico was “at work”. Nick knew that wasn’t the case.

Any news on Vula?” The mother asked.

No sorry,” Kendra answered, “but we’re working on it.”

Vezna shook her head. “That stuff I said before, I didn’t mean any of it. She’s my daughter, ya know. But Rico, well he’s gotta temper.”

May I ask why you put up with it?” She asked.

Fear mostly. Money. He’s never touched us, but ah he gets real mad like and he says things. Instead of findin’ out if he’s bluffin’, I’d rather take no chances.”

Mrs. Garcia,” Nick began, “did you know that your husband has a police record?”

He has a police record?” She looked genuinely shocked, and concerned. She started to chew on her cuticles. “No I wasn’t aware of that.”

Mrs. Garcia, you might want to take a seat. What we have to tell you may come to a shock.” Nick warned. Vezna Garcia complied and sat down.

Earlier in the car, they agreed that the news would be better off coming from Kendra if Vezna didn’t already know. Nick watched as Kendra squatted down in front of Vezna Garcia, who was looking more vulnerable than the last time he had seen her.

Rico Garcia, has a juvenile record that we cannot gain access to because it is sealed, but we were able to get access to his adult record.” Kendra began.

And?”

He has multiple indecent exposure charges, two charges of inappropriate conduct around children, fifteen charges of possession of child pornography, and three child sexual assault charges. Rico is on the sex offender registry and is listed as dangerous.”

Vezna Garcia kept shaking her head, “and I did nothing. I did nothing because I thought my daughter was lying.” She started crying uncontrollably. Her eye make-up

began to run down her face giving her what Kendra referred to as the Alice Cooper special. “He touched my Vula, that bastad.”

Kendra looked at Nick over her shoulder. Nick decided to leave the room, stepping out on the front porch so that Kendra could do the female duties of comforting a hysterical woman Although Nick wasn’t sure Kendra was the one to pull it off, that seemed to be Molly’s area of expertise, but Ken was all he had.

As he closed the door behind him, a really ugly green pinto pulled up into the drive way. There was mud splattered all around the wheel wells. Rico Garcia got out.

What the fuck are you doin’ here?” He walked up and pushed Nick, “get off my property.”

Nick refused to budge, “or what, you’ll call the police?” Rico didn’t answer. “We both know that’s the last thing you’d do, eh? You’re a sick son of a bitch.”

Fuck-you!”

No, fuck you. You are behind Vula’s disappearance and I am going to spend every waking and breathing moment to prove that you hurt her.” Nick shoved back.

Breathing moment, huh chico, I don’t think so. Because I am gonna cut you. I aint ever hurt a child.”

Nick laughed hysterically, “funny. I actually have the police record that says otherwise. Which means you will again, and again.”

Rico punched Nick, but he retaliated with a punch of his own. His face was stinging, and had to mentally admit that Rico had a one hell of a fist, but he wasn’t about to go down without a damn good fight. The two of them rolled around the front yard, punches and blood flying every where. Nick could feel blood drip into his eye from a cut somewhere above. He just hoped it was his own blood and not Rico’s. God knows where he had been.

Kendra looked at Vezna, and she looked back. They ran to the door and swung it open to see both guys kicking and hitting each other. Her first thought was that Nick was worried about her behaviour? She hadn’t punched or kicked anyone yet. No matter how tempting.

She pulled her gun, “STOP! I SAID STOP DAMMIT!”

The two men stopped, Rico put his hands up, and Nick used his arm to wipe the blood from his brow. Now that they were no longer fighting, and shooting either of them wasn’t an option, she had no idea what to do next.

Vezna stepped in and started cursing at Rico in Spanish, and then finished with her kicking him out. He yelled back in Spanish, then stomped off to his Pinto, slamming the car door. Kendra flinched. Those cars had a narly reputation of exploding when hit hard by other cars. Nothing blew-up now. She hated to admit, but she was disappointed.

Vezna, too, disappeared inside her house, slamming the door behind her.

Nick looked at Kendra and she said, “well that was interesting.”

Nick was at his desk in his condo working ona theory. He had already turned evidence over to the police after a long discussion with Kendra. Both of them felt that it was time that the police take over. They could legally deal with Rico Garcia, where as they couldn’t. For once the police said that they would have a look.

His work wasn’t done yet. Nick and Kendra still needed to find Vula. Her foster parents and Vezna deserved answers, whether good ro bad.

Kendra walked in carrying dinner just as his cell phone rang. He gave her a quick kiss then answered.

Nick speaking.” He walked to his counter carrying the bags of Greek food Ken brought over from her favourite place. He put them down, and felt everything in his body go rigid. “OK, thanks.” Nick felt sick to his stomach.

What’s wrong? You just turned pale.”

Nick looked at her, “that was the police.”

Her eyes widened, “Oh my God, they found Vula’s body?”

No,” he swallowed. “They arrested Elton Savidis in connection to her disappearance.”

Chapter 13:

Kendra and Nick just stood their at Eli and Molly’s house. Eli was pissed off at the both of them. More at Nick. She figured it was because he didn’t know her as well as he knew Nick. She couldn’t get a word in edge-wise to set the record straight. Eli wasn’t letting either of them talk.

The decision to go to the police had been both of theirs. It was their evidence, and their case. Nick had a plan that they would give them everything, after they made copies of everything, and then guide them towards Rico Garcia, not Elton Savidis.

They just didn’t think the police would run out and arrest someone only a few hours after receiving evidence. The police didn’t do any of their own investigating, but instead just arrested someone without really looking thoroughly through what was given to them. Nick and Kendra had done all the work.

Eli had every right to be pissed off but it should have been directed at the police, not his friends and co-workers. Kendra couldn’t help but focus on this vein in the top of Eli’s forehead that popped out. Nick had one in the same spot and one in his neck. She had noticed that yesterday while he was fighting with Rico. Today he had a swollen left eye with a pink Hello Kitty band-aid over the cut he sustained, and a bruised upper lip. It was kind of sexy. Well maybe except the pink band-aid.

Her thoughts dragged her away from the problem at hand. If it wasn’t for the strange questioning look Molly was shooting her, she never would have realized it.

My father’s hard work has just been flushed down the shitter thanks to you two. What possessed you to go to the police now?” Eli screamed.

We had enough evidence to give Rico to the police, for questioning. He has a record.” Nick spoke in effort to reason with his best friend.

A record versus, physical evidence is not enough.” Eli shook his head, and ran his hands through his terminally messy, blonde hair. “You’re so stupid.”

Kendra had to fight to control the urge to bug her eyes out. Eli rarely lost his temper but he never insulted anyone before. At least not from what she knew about him. That was her department. Kendra was a bit worried about Nick, because there was no way he ever allowed anyone to call him stupid. He wasn’t going to let that go.

You know what Eli, I did what I had to do. The police are the ones you should be pissed off with, not me. Especially not Kendra. The main goal was to find this girl, not to keep your alcoholic father out of trouble. Right now you can fuck off.” Nick grabbed Kendra’s hand, “if you don’t like my way, then you can have this case since you think you’re so God dammned high and mighty.”

Nick pulled her from the house. He was hurt by his best friend so he lashed out.

She understood that, but Eli was a partner in her business, and Nick technically wasn’t even an employee. Deep down inside, Kendra knew that allowing Nick to work with her was a mistake.

You, OK?”

Yeah.”

Liar.”

Kendra, not now please. I’m dropping you off at the office, then I’m going to try to repair the damage.” Nick informed her.

Then what?”

Nick told her to keep working the case and that he was going to get Elton released.

Hailey couldn’t believe what Kendra was telling her. She sympathized with both Nick and Kendra but she thought Ken’s fear that this incident would tare her and Molly apart were unfounded. Those two were inseparable. Things would work out.

As always Kendra was trying to hide her fear, but Hailey had known her since she was seven years old. She could see through the facade almost as well as Molly could. “I should have known better than to allow Nick to help me out because now it could put this business in jeopardy and may ruin his and Eli’s friendship.”

I wouldn’t worry too much about Ken.” Hailey and Kendra turned around to see Molly standing in the front door. “He’ll get over it, and maybe, just maybe he will be force to deal with his father’s possible guilt. I love the man, but there is a good chance he’s behind it.”

Kendra stood up, “you don’t believe Elton’s guilty, do you Molls?”

Hailey watched Molly walk to Kendra. Her heels of her hot pink pumps clunking on the hard wood. She put her hands on each of Kendra’s shoulders. “A very intuned and intelligent woman once told me, that evidence speaks louder than feelings but that it screams louder when paired with gut instincts.”

Having you say that now, out loud, makes absolutely no sense to me. Why would I say that?”

OK fine,” Molly dropped her arms to her side, “a great writer once wrote, ‘keep the faith’.”

Jon Bon Jovi,” Kendra smiled, “now that makes sense.”

Then Hailey came up with an excellent idea. “Girls, I think we can salvage part of Eli’s father’s reputation.”

How?” Molly and Kendra both asked.

Kendra had to hand it to Hailey, her plan might just be working. The three of them were sitting in Principal Wiggins office. His name was enough to make her want to crack up in laughter. She half expected him to get up and the Wiggins walk that Carole Burnette made famous. She felt a giggle that needed to be suppressed. She needed to focus, and not think about Carole Burnette as Mrs. Wiggins. Kendra always got giggly when tired.

Mr. Savidis was falsely accused in the Garcia case. We have sufficient evidence that her step-father is behind it.” Kendra stated. Stretching the truth just little bit.

I understand that Ms. Morgan, but obviously the police wouldn’t make a mistake of that magnitude.” Mr. Wiggins retaliated.

Very valid point Mr. Wiggins. Except that we are talking about the same police force that Vula Garcia went to last June for help, because her step-father sexually assaulted her. That same man who is on the registered sex offenders list for multiple child-sex related crimes. Those same cops ignored her plea for help. So you tell me now that they were right in arresting a man who has no record, no history of violence and actually cares about the victim, and not to mention, who has been more than willing to cooperate with us.” Kendra was fired up but a mistake by two parties were made. She and Nick for going to the police with just a file on Garcia, and the police for ignoring the victim before and not following up with the step-father before talking to, not arresting, Elton.\

Mr. Wiggins leaned back in his chair, considering what Kendra had just told him.

Mr. Wiggins,” Molly said softly, “a huge mistake was made. Is it fair that Mr. Savidis should lose this job? Or lose a reputation when the only thing that connects him to Vula Garcia is the occasional lunch at a fast food joint?”

He loves this job,” added Hailey.

Mr. Savidis is rather good at keeping our school clean, and the grounds nicely landscaped.” He paused. “Did you know that because of him, we don’t need landscapers to come in, and all that extra money goes to extracurricular activities.” Mr. Wiggins told them.

You mean you don’t pay him for all the extra work?” Molly asked. The man was her father-in-law after all, she needed to make sure he wasn’t getting ripped off.

We tried to but Mr. Savidis wouldn’t take any payment. He told us to put it back into the school for the kids. It was his request.” Mr. Wiggins explained.

Kendra could see the pride in Molly’s face. She was so proud of Eli’s father, and Eli would be too.

Is it safe to say Mr. H-Wiggins,” Kendra couldn’t help herself, “that Elton Savidis will still have a job here when this mess gets all sorted out?” The Principal looked at her funny. “Excuse me, hiccups.”

He nodded, “he certainly does. Thank-you ladies for shedding some light into the situation.”

Just one more thing sir, before we go.” Kendra paused, “I noticed that you have a security system in place. I saw the cameras at the entrance today.”

Yes we do. None of the students know about them, we picked small high powered ones to pick up any bad behaviour.” He explained.

Yes they are rather small because I didn’t notice them until just today. How many cameras to you have?” She asked.

Two at each entrance. Thirty-eight entrances and exits but ten belong to the science and shop classes, and four to the gym. Thirty cameras all together.” Mr. Wiggins answered.

Is it possible to get the footage from every camera from the day Vula went missing?” Molly asked.

Sure. We keep the DVDs for a month.” He called his secretary and asked her to retrieve the discs.

Once the girls had thirty different camera’s, which equalled to a hell of a whole lot of DVD’s they were on their way.

Ladies, I’m really hungry.” Hailey blurted out. “My stomach was threatening to growl in Mr. H-Wiggins office.”

Kendra laughed.

That’s fantastic.” Molly said as she pulled out of the schools parking lot. “I’ve been having a craving for a frigging pizza sub since the wedding.”

God you and your Subway cravings.” Kendra stated. Molly rarely got cravings but when she did, they were powerful.

One time while they were in their teens, Molly got this hankering for a hot dog. They drove all over the place at eleven at night on their way to a club, looking for a hot dog. Eventually she found one.

Bite me. Yes I have a craving, big freaking deal.”

Molly drove to the same Subway where Vula ate lunch on Friday’s. The same woman was behind the counter and she seemed to be relieved to see Kendra.

Ms. Morgan, I’m so glad you came back. I lost the card you gave me.”

Kendra smiled. The woman was almost frantic. “Not a problem, what’s up?”

I remembered something about the missing girl.” She paused, “have you found her yet?”

No, unfortunately we haven’t.”

The woman made their subs while she told Kendra that another man showed up. “The man she was with, the janitor, got up to use the washroom, and the girl went outside.”

What did the other guy look like?” Hailey asked.

He was kind of short. Latino with slick back dark hair and those awful sideburns that are bushy. He had a mustache,” she told them what it looked like.

A fu manchu, go on.” Kendra encouraged, although she knew already who the man was.

He had a naked woman tattooed on his arm. They argued, well mostly he yelled at her, and then he smacked her.” She described. “I can’t believe I forgot all of this. Our manager was going over the tapes, and he found the incident and asked me about it, and that was when I remembered.”

Tapes?” Molly asked. “Do you still have them?”

Sure do. I explained to my manager that a private investigator came in asking all kinds of questions and told him that I had your card. He put the tape aside in the back.” She quickly finished making their sandwiches, then after wiping her hands on a towel, disappeared into the back.

Wow,” Hailey exhaled, “talk about a major break in the case.”

Kendra picked up her phone and texted Nick. “This might be enough to take the pressure off of Elton and on to Gracia.”

Molly was already on the phone to Eli. This was great news for Elton.

Here you go. I’m really sorry I didn’t remember when you spoke to me before. Maybe the girl would have been found by now.” She handed the tape to Hailey along with a bag full of their subs. “My boss says the sandwiches are on him.”

Kendra smiled, “thank-you very much. And you know what, don’t worry about forgetting. Everyone does, and I caught you at a busy time. It’s not your fault. We really appreciate this.”

Hailey found herself in Kendra’s office, watching DVDs from the high school. She figured this was their way of killing her interest in becoming a private investigator. There was so much to go through, that she knew that she would have to take it home with her. Alex wasn’t going to be happy, but this was part of her job. They told her that when they hired her on full-time. Hailey wasn’t worried.

After all of them watched the video tape from Subway, while they ate their lunch, Hailey now knew what Rico Garcia looked like. Finding him should be easy.

Chapter 14:

There were so much video footage that they dumped on poor Hailey, that Kendra felt guilty, and decided to pick up half the DVD’s from Hails’ place. On her way home she stopped at her favourite restaurant and picked up some Greek pasta salad, Chicken on a pita with extra tizhiki sauce and baklava. Her mouth watered all the way home.

A storm was coming in and she hope the power remained on or else she wouldn’t get to view the DVD’s comfortably. She would have to use her lap top and although she would get them viewed, she just wouldn’t be comfortable doing it.

As she walked up to her house, the rain started to lightly pelt the stamped concrete of her front porch. She could hear Hardy on the other side snorting around the door to see who it was, then barked excitedly. Kendra resisted the urge to sniff her arm pits to see if she smelled. Her dog knew her scent, good or bad.

Once inside, she let Hardy out to do his business before the rain picked up since he wasn’t one for getting wet, especially his precious feet. He quickly ran back inside, slid on the wood floor and turned into the kitchen as Kendra closed the door off the dining room. She poured a glass of riesling and took her plate with her Greek food to the living room to start watching the DVD’s.

Nothing too eventful took place, especially while the students were in class, but in between she caught a few making out and smoking, the usual shenanigans that students get into during break. She also noted that there seemed to be a lot of bullying. This high school seemed to have some serious issues which needed to be addressed before the situation escalated to a Columbine level. She would mark the tape and let the principal know.

As she put her put a piece of pita and chicken into her mouth, Vula Garcia appeared on the screen with her friend, Layla. Layla gave a wave and then walked towards the parking lot. Her phone rang so Kendra pressed paused and looked at the call display, “what’s up Hails?”

I’ve got a lime green pinto in the front parking log.” Hailey told her. “Luckily for us, the one east side camera has a decent view of the far end of the parking lot.”

Excellent, have you seen the driver?”

Not yet. I paused it to call you. The time stamp says twelve-twenty-six.” Kendra jotted down the information and then asked if Hailey could un-pause it. “Sure.” Kendra waited patiently for Hailey to watch the tape. “Unfortunately I can’t get a clear shot, but the driver looks male.”

Where’s he headed once out of the car?”

He’s heading towards my camera, the east side.” Hailey gasped.

What?”

It’s definitely Rico Garcia, and he walked right past my camera. Towards the back.”

Hailey, you rock. Mark it down and keep looking for him. We’ll see if we can retrace his steps.” Kendra hung up.

She watched the DVD’s and noted at twelve-thirty, Vula walked back into the school through the front door, and just as Elton had said, he continued to walking to the west side of the school. As Kendra kept watching neither Vula, Elton or Rico come out the front door. However, Elton was out front at twelve forty-five trimming the hedges.

The next set of DVD’s she watched was the back doors of the same building, and sure enough, Rico entered the building just before twelve-thirty. “Gotcha!”

Nick’s cell phone rang and he looked at his watch, just after midnight. The rain was so loud against his windows that he was surprised he had fallen asleep. “Yeah?” He rubbed his eyes. Security. “Sure send her up.”

Kendra was on her way up, and some how he never pictured her making a late night booty-call in the middle of a bad storm. Great he though. Quickly he turned off the porn that was on the television, and yawned. He had fallen asleep while watching a movie on the movie channels. Porn on a big screen, kind of grossed him out.

Nick made it to the door before she did, his shirt in his hand, so he tossed it into the bedroom. He liked this sexy night time call from her. When he opened the door, she wasn’t alone. “Ah, Ken, I’m pretty sure Alex would kill me if this is a three-some booty call.”

Hailey squeezed her wet hair, aiming it at him. “Ew Nick,” she responded following Kendra into his condo. “We’ve just cleared Elton.”

Kendra gave him a peck on the cheek, and let her hand slide down his naked chest before making herself comfortable on the couch. “We’ve got something to show you.”

He asked them to hang on so that he could grab his shirt since he wasn’t getting any tonight. Damn. When he came back, Kendra has switched on the television. She turned to him, “really Nick?”

I was asleep. I fell asleep after watching The Watchmen. I swear. That came on when my movie finished.”

That is once giant vagina,” Hailey commented breaking their bickering. They

both turned towards her to find that her head was tilted to the side while looking at it. “It’s like it could eat’cha.”

Kendra laughed, “I think it’s the other way around.”

OK Seriously,” Nick reached for the remote and changed the channel. “I was watching a movie and you woke me up.”

Kendra put her arms around his waist and kissed his neck, “sure baby.” Nick looked at Hailey, who looked disappointed that he turned off the porn. He decided not to comment. As quickly as she hugged him, Kendra slapped his chest with both hands. “Oh my God.”

What?” He asked as he rubbed his now reddened chest.

Kendra and Hailey proceeded to show and tell him all about the DVD’s implicated Rico Garcia. “Then here’s the stuff with Rico.”Kendra showed Rico parking at the school after showing him the Subway footage of his and Vula’s argument. They topped it off with Rico dragging Vula, who was alive but holding her forehead, away from the school.

Then she’s forced into his car, and that’s it.” Hailey said as Kendra turned off the DVD.

Nick smiled, “if only we knew about the security cameras sooner.”

No shit.”

Kendra explained that she and Hailey took the footage down to the police. Not only had they implicated Rico, but in the process cleared Elton. He was on camera working on the exterior grounds pretty much all day long, and didn’t leave school property until six that evening. Carrying just his wallet and his car keys in his hands.

Fantastic work. What did the police say about Rico?” He asked.

They said they will bring him in for questioning.” Kendra answered.

Hey, you two need to go. Eli and Molly should be watching the Garcia house.” Hailey informed them.

Shit, you’re right.”

Nick grabbed a plaid shirt to throw over his white t-shirt and slipped his shoes on. Kendra handed her keys to Hailey to drive herself home, and they all walked out together. All he could think was that he hoped that the police did a better job this time. It really looked as if Rico was behind it, and he easily could walk if they don’t do a proper arrest.

They drove over in silence until Kendra’s cell phone beeped, with a text message from Eli, saying that they were tailing Vezna. Nick wondered where she was going at one-thirty in the morning. He parked his SUV down the street from the Garcia residence but made sure they had a clear view of the place.

If Vezna isn’t here,” Kendra began.

Yes but Rico could show up so we need to stay put.”

She gave him an odd look. Her lip went slightly down in an frown as her brows creased. “I know that, I wasn’t suggesting we leave.”

That caught his attention. He was officially curious. “We’re not breaking and entering either. If the cops show up tomorrow to search the place and we could have contaminated it, then Rico would get off.”

Kendra still looked annoyed. She turned to look out the window and crossed her arms over her chest. He could have sworn she mumbled something that sounded like “wasn’t talking about him getting off.” Nick wasn’t sure.

You weren’t thinking that were you?” He asked and she slowly shook her head. “Ken, what were you thinking?”

The moment has passed. Watch the damn house Nick.”

Now she was pissed off at him for, for what? Not being able to read her mind? “Are you alright?”

Perfectly fine,” she answered sarcastically.

He knew better than to ask if it was that time of the month. He once had asked his sister that and she stabbed him with a pencil.

They continued to watch the house, despite the fact that Kendra being mad was driving Nick nuts. The quiet in the car was adding stress to his uneasiness, then her cell phone beeped. She looked down and read off the text from Eli who reported Vezna was just sitting outside of the Ushkowitz’s home.

I wonder why.”

She’s curious. I over heard her arguing with Rico the night I snuck out. She wanted to got talk to them about Vula, but he wouldn’t let her.” Kendra explained.

Why are you pissed at me?”

Kendra shifted in the passenger seat to face Nick, “I was thinking that I’d like to do something to help pass the time.”

Ah-ha, he got it now. Nick leaned over and kissed her. “I’m sorry baby, forgive me?” He kissed her neck, and her head fell to the side to give him better access.

I don’t know,” she huffed, and Nick began to suck gently on her neck, as he unsnapped her jeans. “I might.”

Kendra angled her body so he could shove her jeans down her legs. This wasn’t easy in the front seat of a car. Nick unzipped her pink and black hoodie and underneath she was wearing only her bra. A hot pink one that matched her panties he now hand his hand in. She was ready to go. “This is the best surveillance ever.” He muttered from between her breasts.

Give me the binoculars Eli.” Molly tugged on his sleeve. They had followed Vezna back to her house and Eli had text Kendra but she never responded. Once they were parked they used the binoculars to check to see if they were there. And they were and now Molly and Eli knew why she wasn’t answering because they were getting freaky in the front seat of Nick’s SUV. “Eli!”

I’m not watching them Mols. I’m doing their job for them.” He answered.

If Molly didn’t know her husband the way that she did, she would have thought he was lying, but Eli never lied about work. Or anything for that matter. She let it go. Now her concern was whether or not she’d be able to look Nick and Kendra in the eye. Molly had seen a lot more than what she needed to see.

Molly looked around, and thought she saw something, “Eli, may I please see the binoculars for a minute please dear?”

Why, don’t you believe me?”

I do, but,” then she no longer needed the binoculars. “Nevermind Eli. Lime green pinto approaching from three o’clock.”

Eli swung around with the binoculars still to his eyes, then lowered them “Oye, I think I just gave myself motion sickness,” then raised them back to his eyes.

Is it him?”

He moved the binoculars down to look at her, “it’s a lime green pinto. How many people have pintos, let alone lime green ones, these days?”

Bite me.”

Yes it’s him. Call Kendra.”

I’d hate to interrupt.” Molly said but she could tell by the look on Eli’s face that he wasn’t in the mood for her jokes. Without another word she dialed Kendra’s phone and waited. Kendra picked up, slightly out of breath. “Hey, um, we are back and were wondering if, um, you two were done, because um, Rico’s there.” After a few, “shit! Shit! Shit!” from Kendra, Molly hung up.

Kendra turned to Nick as she did up her jeans. He was pulling his pants up his legs. “We are so never going to live that down. Do you think they watched?”

Probably just long enough to know what we were doing.” Nick responded. Kendra felt her face grow hot. “Aw honey, don’t worry about it. It’s not like a cop knocked on the window.” She laughed.

Her laughter was cut short when the front door of the Garcia residence flew open and Rico and Vezna came out screaming at each other. It was nearly three in the morning, and the neighbours could wake up and call the police at any minute. That might not be a bad thing.

Nick turned the ignition just enough to put the windows down without actually turning the car on, then turned it off. Kendra strained to hear what was being said. She leaned her head further out the window.

Can you hear what they’re saying?” Nick asked, as he too, tried to hear them.

Nope!” She looked around, “think they’d see me if I slipped out the car?”

He looked and assessed the situation, “yeah unfortunately.” He looked again, “try slipping out the window. The glare of the door might catch the street lights and they might see that but going out the window is worth a shot.

Kendra grabbed hold of the roof and started to pull herself through the window. She was almost out when she was yanked back inside. The door scratching her bare back, “ouch!”

Sorry.” Nick ducked as did she, “he’s leaving.”

Oh,” that made sense. Rico would have seen her if it wasn’t for Nick.

The lime green pinto sped by them and turned the corner. Shortly after, Eli and Molly followed.

Kendra decided it was in their best interest to sit there for a bit longer, just in case Rico came back. It was five in the morning when they left to get some sleep before they opened the office. A text from Eli said they lost the pinto and that Rico was now MIA; Missing In Action.

Right now, Kendra was too tired to care.

Chapter 15:

A yawn slipped out of Nick’s mouth as he leaned back in Kendra’s desk chair. She was across from him in a purple chair. When she was exhausted she usually broke out in random giggle fits. Right now she was quiet. Nick was thankful, he was too tired to deal with it.

His eye lids felt heavy as he tried to focus on their surveillance notes from the night before. He just didn’t think he could do anything right now.

Good luck with that,” Eli said startling Kendra, who fell off the chair. “You two were busy, if I recall.”

He plopped down his notes from the previous night, then helped Kendra up off the floor. She giggled.

She drunk Nicky?” Eli asked as he chuckled.

Nope, just overly tired.” Nick answered. He took the black note book that Eli put down on Kendra’s desk and flipped through it. “Have you photocopied these?”

Yes this morning before you two even rolled out of bed.” Eli answered.

Nick nodded and kept reading. After Vezna Garcia had left her home, she stopped for cigarettes, then parked her car in front of her daughter’s foster parent’s home. She smoked eight cigarettes, and cried four times, at least from what they could tell. After an hour, she drove back to her home and twenty minutes later, Rico showed up.

Thank-God for Eli’s extensive note taking or else Nick would have felt like a failed investigator.

I’m glad that you and I didn’t run surveillance the same way you and Kendra do, because dude things would be weird between us.” Eli joked, and Kendra smacked his arm, making him laugh.

They were all laughing about his and Kendra’s sexual antics during surveillance and Nick watched Kendra’s face grow redder and redder, but she kept laughing along with them. One thing he loved about her was that she was strong and had a great sense of humour.

Hailey came in looking a bit put off, she told them that the police were here to talk to them and then stood aside the door and ushered the two detectives into Kendra’s office.

Both Kendra and Eli stood up and came around to stand with Nick who was still behind Kendra’s desk. His favourite detectives, Kim Sanchez and Paul DiMarco, stood there in front of them looking cocky and a bit pissed off.

What are you two doing here?” Nick asked. When he dropped off the evidence, Nick purposely went to other detectives. He couldn’t stand these two.

Savidis. Dupree. You two goof balls don’t look thrilled to see us.” Detective DiMarco commented.

Well, I see your investigating skills have come a long way.” Nick added as he stood up straight.

Ha, your funny. Not. Thanks to your complaint against us, we got moved to homicide. Apparently we are not sympathetic enough for missing persons.” Detectives Sanchez informed them. “Along with the move, we were forced to take a five percent pay cut.”

Kendra nodded, “so I guess we will still be doing your job for you then.”

Nick’s brows creased, “wait a second, did you say homicide?”

Yes we did. When was the last time you spoke to Vezna Garcia?” DiMarco questioned.

About two days ago we spoke to her, but we did surveillance on the Garcia residence last night until around,” he paused to look at Eli’s notes in front of him, “five this morning.”

Should have stayed another hour. Vezna Garcia was found dead this morning. Time of death was around six.” DiMarco explained.

Who found her?” Eli asked.

Her sister did around seven-thirty. She went to pick her up to go shopping in Portland, found her dead in the front hallway. Looks to be blunt force trauma.” Sanchez told them. “Along with a very severe beating.”

Since you guys did surveillance last night, can we get your notes?” DiMarco asked. And it was clear to Nick that it pained him to ask them for anything.

Nick looked over at Kendra who looked white as a ghost. She had made the suggestion that they stay a bit longer but Nick didn’t want to call attention from the neighbours when they started leaving for work. Plus he wanted some sleep. Eli left the room to go get the copies of his notes for the detectives.

Rico Garcia showed up and the two of them had a fight on the front lawn. I think around three, maybe three-thirty.” Kendra told them.

About what?”

Sorry,” Kendra shook her head, “we were too far to hear them, only see them. They weren’t overly loud but enough that we could catch the odd word. It was mostly muffled.”

He has a record,” Nick added. He then gave them a look at his copy of Rico’s record that Jane gave them. He could see by the look on the two detectives’ faces that they had yet to check on the husband. Nick watched as Sanchez and DiMarco exchanged looks.

Eli entered with a copy of the notes and handed them to Sanchez.

After the five of them talked and exchanged all the information they had between them, and the two official detectives didn’t have very much, they left. Nick and Eli couldn’t believe that Sanchez and DiMarco were the two detectives that were assigned to this case. Kendra was right, they would be doing the police’s job for them. Hell, they already have.

Kendra watched Nick push the door bell tot he tudor style home that belonged to Mac and Barb Ushkowitz. Their home looked liked something out of a television show, featuring the perfect family. Growing Pains came to her mind.

Barb Ushkowitz opened the thick wood front door. She looked like Donna Reid, with her blonde hair in a perfect French twist, and not a hair out of place. A strand of pearls decorated her slender neck, and she wore a powder blue sweater set and a pair of tan dress pants.

Please come in. Excuse the mess, I’m just in the middle of my house work.” She stpped aside to let them in.

Kendra’s eyes scanned the house. Not a speck of dust anywhere, or even floating in the sunlight that came through the non-streaked window’s. “Wow, Mrs. Ushkowitz if you say your house isn’t cleaned yet, then I would have to accuse you lying. You would never know that your place needed cleaning. Would you be interested in cleaning mine? I have a dog who sheds like none other.”

Barb giggled which sounded like Betty Rubble, “why thank-you, but I assure you I have just started my work for the day.” She moved to the door way of the living room. “Please make your self comfortable, I will be right back.”

As soon as Barb left the room, Kendra looked at Nick and watched him walk around the room, which was filled with antique knick-knacks, nice pristine furniture and art on the walls. She had to admit they had an impressive collection.

I’m afraid to sit down,” she admitted to him. He looked at her. “Seriously, what

if I have a spot of dirt or dog hair on my rear end.”

Nick told her to turn around by using his finger to make a circular motion, she turned. “God that is one hot ass.”

Nick Dupree, behave.” She chastised. “Your fine,” he said and smiled.

Kendra gingerly sat down on the white cushion of the love seat that looked like it had never been sat on.

Mrs. Ushkowitz reminds me of my mother.” Nick began to tell her, but he was about to sit down. Kendra put her hand on his butt. “What are you doing?”

Just checking.” She pulled him down to the love seat.

Thanks, I think. As I was saying, my mother wears sweater sets and slacks around the house, but she has two maids who do the cleaning for her.”

The prospect of meeting Nick’s family made her feel uneasy before, now it down right scared the crap out of her. Kendra’s parents were borderline hippies, and her her middle named was the last name of her mother’s favourite Beatle for crying out loud. Somehow, Kendra McCartney Morgan wasn’t going to impress Catherine Dupree-Richards. Figures, the first relationship she has allowed herself to enjoy and the freedom to fall in love with Nick, and it’s doomed. She’ll never be good enough for him.

She felt his hand on her knee, and moved it away just as Barb came in carrying a white porcelain tea pot and matching cups and saucers. In this setting, Kendra was likely to turn into Elizabeth, Hyacinth Bucket’s bumbling with nerves neighbour from the Brit-com Keeping Up Appearances, and spill.

I’m assuming you have news on Vula, am I correct?” Barb asked as she poured.

Nick spoke first, “we do have a lead, but we came here to inform you of new developments that may not pertain to the case directly.”

Mrs. Ushkowitz, normally we would want to speak to both you and your husband but we are close to wrapping the investigation up that we need to do this now.” Kendra explained. “I’m afraid, Vula’s mother, Vezna Garcia, was murdered very early this morning”

Oh my word.” Her perfectly French manicured hand went to her lips. “Do you know who could have done such a thing? Are they connected to Vula?”

Kendra apologized about not knowing for sure. She explained that they believe Rico was involved in both Vula’s disappearance and in Vezna’s death, but had yet to prove it. Nick and Kendra handed Barb a copy of the case to date to show her husband. Even though they didn’t want to scare Barb, they owed it to her that they be honest.

The odds of finding Vula alive are really low Mrs. Ushkowitz. Too much time has gone by, but despite this obstacle, we refuse to give up so easily.”

I understand that I come off as naïve and maybe a bit ignorant to the bad stuff in the world, but I am aware that we will likely find Vula’s body. I choose to believe that there is hope because it makes me and my husband feel better. It’s the only think that is keeping me sane.” She explained. “I do appreciate you both being so honest with me. Both my husband and I appreciate the work you two are doing for us and for Vula.”

Kendra’s heart broke for the woman. She understood how Barb felt, although she’s never lost a child, she knew that if anything happened to Sheldon or Megan, she would need to cling to that same hope.

Managing to finish her tea without incident, Kendra gently placed the cup and saucer back on the tray. Nick did the same and stood up. Barb followed them outside and told them thank-you.

As they turned the corner from the Ushkowitz’s home, Nick turned to Kendra, “well, involved or innocent?”

Ah, innocent. Why would you think they are involved?” Kendra asked.

They’re too perfect.” He said and she though, spoken like someone who comes from a perfect family. “And really, it wouldn’t be the first time the suspects hired help to throw suspicion on to someone else.” He answered.

Good point, but I don’t think so.”

Two-hundred bucks says they are behind it?”

Kendra looked at him. Nick was serious. “You’re on big boy.”

Nick and Kendra joined Molly and Eli at the office. Hailey had left early to take her kids to the dentists. The four of them decided to close the office for the rest of the day. Together they sat in the reception area to be more comfortable, and to have better air circulation. Molly had her feet on Eli’s lap on the couch. He was giving her a foot massage. Kendra sat cross-legged on one of the plush chairs and Nick decided to lay on his back on the floor. He picked up a green and blue NERF ball that Sheldon must have left there.

We need to think of a plan,” Kendra said as she filed her nails. “We really need to get a handle on Rico.”

I forgot to tell you guys, but I managed to put a tracking device on Rico’s pinto,

but it takes twenty-four hours for the transmitter to be picked up by satellite. Plus he needs to be within range of my tracking device.” Eli told them. Nick thought that was clever. “I’ve already ordered us some better equipment for the future.”

Nick tossed the ball and caught it, “we really need to close this case before Rico hurts anyone else.”

Yeah but it will be so much easier once we know where he is.” Molly said, “then we could follow him, and with any luck he’ll lead us to Vula.”

Unless he comes near one of us, this tracking device is useless. We may never find the fucker.” Kendra blurted, her cheeks stayed normal. Nick gave her a smile.

After they agreed that they were stuck until they could get a sense of where Rico was, they decided to go home. Nick followed Kendra to her place for the night.

You OK?” He asked, he felt like he had been asking that a lot lately but she’s been acting strange all day.

Just peachy.”

Chapter 16:

The sun heated up Kendra’s office through the tiny window she had behind her desk. Any snow that was left, which was very little, would be gone by noon.

Across the hall was where Molly was, sifting through her case load to find a potential case for her to start on. Eli was doing the same in his tiny office. His office was way smaller than either hers or Molly’s. It felt like a regular day. Even Hailey was at her desk, organizing requests and sorting the mail. Kendra wondered when the other shoe was going to drop. Things lately just didn’t go smoothly without a rough patch.

Hailey knocked and opened the door to Kendra’s office, and in her hand was an envelope, “this was addressed directly to you and Nick.” She handed it to Kendra and then left.

As she unfolded the letter, Nick entered the office carrying a tray from Starbucks with her caramel frappuccino with extra caramel and his black coffee. “How is it that they can make all these fancy schmancy fu-fu drinks, but when I ordered a black coffee, they just looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language?”

Yeah,” was all she could manage. She heard him, but just didn’t care.

What’s up? What is that?”

Here, seems as if we are being threatened.” She handed him the letter.

Kendra watched as Nick read the letter. Probably twice. He then swore, “son of a bitch,” and went to her door and hollered to Eli.

Without word he handed the letter off to Eli before he even stepped over the thresh hold. Eli then left the room and within a few seconds had both Molly and Hailey standing in Kendra’s crowded office.

What the hell is going on?” Molly asked.

Eli read the letter, “’Dear Nick and Kendra, thanks for stickin’ your nose in ma’ bidness’” he paused, “now word of a lie that’s what is says.” He continued to read, “’so I has to take care of yo. You are now my problem, so I has to take both you out. All of you. I know you has back-up so they will be on your conscience. You bitches will be tortured and killed. And you Miss know-it-all-chica, I gots somethin’ special in mind for you.’” Eli folded up the letter. “That’s you Kendra the Miss know it all part.”

No shit.” She responded.

I closed and locked the front door.” Nick informed them as he returned to the room.

Heinous spelling and grammar aside, it’s Rico Garcia. The letter sounds exactly how the bastard talks.” Kendra said.

Like a douche bag,” Molly started to laugh.

Kendra watched Eli shoot his wife a look that said this is serious.

Hailey, you have two choices, go home until this is all sorted out, or come with one of us?” Nick told her.

Hails,” Kendra began, “this could get dangerous, you should probably go home.”

We need to activate a plan,” Eli stated while Hailey took her time to make her decision. “It probably would be a good idea to get the Ushkowitz’s to someplace safe.”

Probably wouldn’t hurt to keep watch on the Garcia home either. He might go back there for something.” Molly added.

Kendra suggested taking Barb and Mac to her parents place, nobody would think to look for them there. They decided that Molly would watch the Garcia place, and that Eli would keep an eye on the Ushkowitz’s in case Rico tried to go after them. Nick and Kendra would take them to her parents house for safety.

Guys,” Hailey interrupted, “if Rico Garcia is a major threat to us, me included, then I’d rather not lead him to my home where my children are. I’m tagging along.”

Fine, go with Molly and do what she says.” Nick told her. “If this isn’t taken care of today, then we will meet here tomorrow at 7am to re-stratagize.”

Oh an we not tell my husband?” Hailey asked.

Nick and Eli walked around the perimeter of the Ushkowitz’s home while Kendra waited inside with Barb for Mac to arrive home.

Once again, Barb served Kendra tea after showing her around her home, especially Vula’s room, which they had decorated especially for her. She broke down in tears wondering how someone could hurt her. Kendra didn’t mind comforting the woman because she knew her tears and concern were real, but it did make her want Nick and Eli to come in any time soon. She wasn’t good at keeping her own emotions in check.

Eli and Nick escorted Mac Ushkowitz through the back door which lead into the kitchen, where Barb and Kendra were. Kendra couldn’t help but smile as Barb nagged at Mac at bringing guests through the back door.

Where exactly are we going?” Mac asked.

Nick and I will be taking you to my parents house. They live on the beach so you’ll have a nice view from inside the house. And I do stress from inside the house.” Kendra told them. “Just a little heads up, my mother is a little eccentric at times. She’s a tough woman as is my father so I know you’ll be safe.”

I have already packed us a bag to take with us. I think we need to oblige them.” Barb said to her husband. “They believe that if Rico Garcia killed his own wife that he isn’t above coming after us.”

Mac turned to Nick, “alright then, lets go. Afterall, we hired you and you are here to help us. Who are we to make your investigation more difficult.”

In no time they were on the road to her parents home. She hoped that her mother would be on her best behaviour. The woman was awesome but she enjoyed embarrassing the hell out of Kendra.

As they pulled up, her mother, Lola, was waiting on the front porch, swinging away on the porch swing, and her father was bringing a tray of coffee through the front door.

She could hear her mother, “look Clark, Kendra’s here.”

I see that Lola.”

Together, Nick and Kendra swung open their doors and got out followed by the Ushkowitz’s. As Nick got their bags out of the back, Kendra did the round of introductions and instructions. She was also developing a really bad headache, only she wasn’t sure if it was the pressure in the atmosphere or if it was the stress from being here and handing over her clients to her mom and dad.

Thankfully her mother had toned down her wardrobe and wasn’t showing much, of anything. She was wearing jeans with a blue and white striped golf shirt. Her finger nails were red and matched her toes.

Lola hugged her daughter and whispered in her ears, “don’t look so shocked Ra, I know they are your clients. I’ll behave.” Kendra smiled.

Clark turned towards the couple who looked a bit out of their element. “Mr. And Mrs. Ushkowitz, may I show you to your room?”

Please call us Mac and Barb.” Mac insisted then told Clark to lead the way.

Lola showed Barb the way into the house telling her to help herself to anything she wants and to make herself at home. As the front screen door slammed, Nick and Kendra were alone on the porch. She glanced at him, his hands were shoved into his

front pockets. The moment felt sort of awkward.

Ah should we do a perimeter check?” Kendra asked just to break the silence.

You OK?”

She looked at Nick from over her shoulder as she started down the front steps, “yeah why?”

You seem,” he came down the steps and put his hands on her shoulders, “you seem distant.”

I know this is a bit awkward but I thought it was because you were feeling awkward.” Kendra gave a half smile.

Well maybe a little. I’m at your parents house and they have no clue about us. I’m assuming.” Nick let go, “and things work wise are about to get real dicey, so I’m a little stressed.

Are you alright with us talking about us to my parents when this case is over? It’s not because I don’t want them to know, but because the longer we stand here the longer our case takes.” She kissed his cheek before bounding down the rest of the steps, “we’ll tell them when this is over. Hopefully sooner than later.”

There was no way she was bringing up that in her mind, there would be no need to tell her family anything about them because she was never going to be good enough for his family. It was better to just leave it open and not say anything that would drive a wedge between her and Nick now. She needed him for the case, and although Kendra knew that was wrong, she knew that it was because she wasn’t ready to let Nick go.

Nick went back into the house to drop off a picture of Rico Garcia and to tell them to call if they needed them, and then Kendra watched him walk back down the porch and get into his card. Sliding in to the driver seat next to her. They were headed back to the Glenburry to check in with Molly and Hailey who were parked over at the Garcia residence, and then they would check in with Eli who should be at the Ushkowitz’s.

Kendra started to think that she and Nick really needed to sit down and discuss their relationship before she made any rash decisions. With him being best friends with her best friend’s husband, then there was no way he was ever going to be completely out of her life. Maybe bringing it up now wasn’t such a bad idea. They were going to be stuck in the car for a while. Kendra cracked her knuckles, then looked at him. Tight black t-shirt under his black leather jacket, and jeans that fit him perfectly in all the right places. Jeans that cost more than her monthly car payment. She looked down at her jeans, and the rest of her clothes and realized that she was just average. She chickened out. Kendra wasn’t ready to hear how his family would “get used to her.”

Nick’s cell phone rang, and he put it on speaker. Kendra was grateful for the interruption of her thoughts.

I got a signal on Rico’s car. He drove past here about fifteen minutes ago.” Eli told them.

Where is he headed?” Nick asked.

He is headed your way. In fact he is about five minutes from Kendra’s parents.” Eli informed.

What?” Kendra gasped. “How the hell would he know to look there?”

Nick slammed the breaks on and swung his SUV around and dust flew up from the tires, just like in the A-Team.

I’m on my way there now,” announced Eli as Nick headed back to her parents.

Molly clicked her cell phone closed. Eli had just informed them that Rico was heading towards the Morgan’s home and that he wanted her to go inside the Garcia’s and search the place. She looked over at Hailey and together they slid on a pair of latex gloves and headed to the back door. Molly handed her another pair, “make sure you double up,” and proceeded to pick the lock.

What for? Isn’t one pair enough?”

Probably, but sometimes these types of gloves aren’t thick enough and can leave partials.” Molly said as she got the door unlocked.

Gotcha,” and Hailey slapped on the second pair. They walked inside and used their flashlights to search around. “There’s a desk over there.”

Molly shined her light and told Hailey to have fun. She opted going through the drawers in the kitchen. Sometimes people will hide papers in the strangest places. She shined her light in each drawer, checking under the cutlery tray and then she got to the junk drawer. Nothing in there but lots of elastics and bread bag ties.

Nothing useful in the desk,” Hailey reported.

Check the bathroom.” Molly joked. Whenever she lost something and couldn’t find it, Kendra always told her to check the bathroom. Sadly, she was usually right.

Hailey headed down the hall and Molly continued to search the Kitchen. She checked on top of the refrigerator, inside the refrigerator. Everywhere. Nothing was in the kitchen. She was heading to check the furniture in the living room when Hailey came

around the corner holding up a medium sized Tupperwear container. “Where did you find that?”

In the bathroom.” She answered.

Wel, I’ll be damned.” Molly said as she opened it. Inside a plastic bag were a set of keys and some papers. She opened the bag and pulled out the paper, “It’s a map to what looks like a cabin.”

Yeah I know. I say we check it out.” Hailey suggested.

Where in the bathroom did you find this?”

In the toilet tank.”

Molly just stared at her sister for what felt like an hour but was only a few seconds. “How ever did you think to look there?”

Pretty Woman.”

Pardon?”

Hailey explained that in one scene, Julia Roberts had hidden money in a container in the toilet tank in her apartment, and that is why she thought to check there now.

Bloody genius,” Molly said as they left to go check out this cabin.

Chapter 17:

It took Molly and Hailey forty-five minutes to reach the cabin that, according to some of the paper work that was found along with the map and keys, belonged to Rico Garcia. The place was small looking. Hailey guessed one room, maybe two. It was made of thick logs and was raised up on a stone foundation. A satellite dish sat in the distance where trees used to be. It was one of those huge, ugly old school black ones.

Molly started walking around the place, keeping her head down. Hailey followed, only keeping her head up. If there was a snake or poison ivy, Molly would see it first.

No one’s here,” Hailey told her sister. Molly looked up at her, “I looked through the window.”

Good,” Molly grabbed her hand and took Hailey to the front door. “Keep the flash light shined on the lock and stay eye level with it.”?

We have keys.”

They are all too small for a regular lock. They belong to a pad lock. Now, on your knees.”

Hailey giggled, “haven’t heard that request for a while.”

Ew,” Molly responded.

As Hailey got to her knees, she suddenly remembered why she hadn’t done that request for a while. She was getting older. She put the mini flashlight in her mouth, and Molly handed her the tools to pick a lock. “Look for the pin in the lock. It should look like a wire or oddly enough a pin. Some are different…” CLICK! Hailey had the door open before Molly could finish explaining how to pick the lock. “Bitch!”

What?”

My first time took me twenty minutes, and even now it takes me at least two minutes. On a simple lock.” Molly said.

Hailey looked at her, her sister was pouting. She slowly opened the door and was hit with the most foul smell she had ever smelled before. “Don’t feel too bad about it little sister, because I’m about to pass out. It smells worse than ass in here.”

Molly leaned forward and took a whiff, “I don’t like the smell of this.”

Would you?” Hailey went in and looked around. The smell was horrible but didn’t bother her as much as is it probably should have. Molly however, looked green. “You alright there squirt?”

Don’t say squirt, and I will be.” Molly held her breath. “We need to find where this smell is coming from.” Molly grabbed her cell phone, ready to call the police Hailey assumed.

Hailey walked around trying to figure out where the smell was strongest. As she walked near the fire place, she could have sworn she heard something. Hailey looked at her sister who had bat ears and no surprise, Molly had heard it too.

Carefully Hailey took a step forward and the toe of her black boot hit something under the throw rug. She stepped aside and removed the rug. While in the process of removing the rug, she stirred up the smell making it stronger.

She looked over at Molly then pointed to the pad lock. Molly reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out the keys they had retrieved from the Garcia’s toilet. It was a perfect fit. Turning it, Molly removed the lock and opened the trap door in the floor. The smell assaulted them. Hailey was now starting to feel sick but her sister looked ready to blow chunks.

Shining her flashlight around, Hailey saw a bare foot. She only hoped that whoever was attached to that foot was still alive and not the cause of the smell. Hailey looked at Molly who was already on her cell dialing 9-11 and decided to carefully get into the hole.

Help me.” The voice was grovely, but definitely female.

My name is Hailey, and I’m here to help. Can you tell me your name?” Hailey didn’t want to shine the light directly at her face as she had been sitting in the dark space for a long time that the girls eyes were probably light sensitive.

Molly left, but returned with a bottle of water and a blanket.

Vula.”

Thank-God. “Vula, we have been looking for you all over the place.” Molly handed Hailey the bottle of water and she gave it to the girl who drank it down slowly until the bottle was empty.

Vula was in her bra and panties, shivering. Her hair was knotted with dirt and God knows what else. Grime and dirt covered her body, and she was likely sitting in urine and feces against her will.

Molly handed Hailey a blanket, “here’s a blanket, and ask her first if she’s hurt anywhere.”

Vula, I’m going to cover you up, gently with this blanket. Can you tell me if you’re hurt so I can possibly move you?” Hailey asked as she gently covered up the teen. Careful as not to step in any potential evidence.

I can move, please just get me out of here.” The girl begged. Upon careful inspection, Vula Garcia was also covered in vomit. A lot of it. As she helped Vula up to the main level of the cabin, something caught Hailey’s eye. She turned her flashlight on it and gasped.

What is it Hails?” Molly asked.

I just found the source of the smell.” Hailey answered and had to swallow the bile rising up in her throat. “A body.”

Nick had never been so happy to know that Kendra was packing heat. He really had no clue as to how her aim was but at this point he didn’t care. He was pretty sure her having a gun would just scare Rico.

He signaled for her to go to the right and to meet him out back. Nick watched her as she rounded the corner of her parents house. Gun in hand.

Kendra carefully walked around to the back of the house. Looking in windows and at the ground to see any abnormalities in the grass. As she got closer to the back, she hear the waves of the Atlantic ocean crashing roughly to the shore. It would be high tide, and probably from the sound of it, the under tow would be deadly.

Behind her parents house was a slight hill of grass which lead to the sandy beach, and as she walked further she spotted some movement down near the shore. Squinting, she managed to get her focus better, and there standing waist high in the water was her family, Clark and Lola, and the Ushkowitz’s. Kendra felt sick to her stomach. That under tow would sweep their bodies under in no time, and her mother was petrified of the water. Why were they standing there?

Kendra moved a bit closer to the hill and realized that Rico was standing there, pointing a gun at them.

She tossed her cell phone and kicked off her shoes to give her easier movement through the sand. Kendra grasped the gun tightly in both her hands, and extended her arms out. She moved swiftly without running through the sand and made it to just behind Rico. He turned around and whacked her in the head with the butt of his gun, and she dropped hers to the sand.

Nick felt uneasy walking around the house. Something was wrong and he figured that maybe he and Kendra were too late. He picked up his pace and rounded the corner to the back of the house. No sign of Kendra anywhere. Nick walked around looking at the ground for signs that maybe she was hurt or killed by the mad man, but found her cell phone and shoes in the grass. Looking up he saw the water being splashed up even more

than the tide was making it.

He took off running after he saw Rico and Kendra fighting in the surf. Fear was gripping his stomach.

Eli pulled up and quietly ran up the front porch and into the house. The place was eerily quiet, but Nick’s SUV and Rico’s pinto were parked out front. He walked around the main floor of the house and then made his way to the second story.

He checked the bedrooms and then the large master bathroom just off of her parent’s bedroom and that’s when he saw them fighting in the water.

Kendra could feel her lungs filling up with water with each time Rico held her under. She kicked at him and managed to scratch the hell out of his face. The bastard was stronger than he looked. She always thought he was a lazy ass.

Her fist collided with his jaw and he dropped her. She felt something hit the back of her head and a searing pain pass through her neck. She grabbed on the a long batch of sea weed, hoping that if she gets caught in the under tow that maybe she’ll stay put if she’s gripping at something. Kendra fought to get the surface but was stopped by Rico’s knee to her chest and she knew she was losing the battle. She was losing her life. The knee on her chest caused her to suck in air, only instead of air, it was salt water. Her limbs suddenly grew too heavy for her.

Kendra’s family was laying in the sand, too weak to help her out Nick noticed as he ran down the sand to the shoreline. He jumped on Rico and pulled him to the shore and started to hit him with his fists.

From behind he heard shouting as Eli came barrelling down. “She’s still in the water Nick, get her out.”

Nick looked up and Kendra was floating face first in at the surface. The waves getting fierce and she kept disappearing into the depths. He needed to get to her before the under tow did. Eli was on Rico in no time and the two of them were rolling around in the sand.

Nick jumped the waves as the cold water smacked him in the face, the arms, just everywhere, but he didn’t care. He needed to save Kendra. He managed to securely grab her but putting his arm around her chest with her back to him, and pull her. He barely touched the bottom so he used all of his strength to swim and pull her to where he could touch down. She was nearly gone.

He laid her body in the sand, and soon Lola was at his side to aid him in the CPR. Nick could hear Eli screaming at Rico, but didn’t care because Kendra’s lips were

cyanotic and she was cold. Lola’s hands shook as she worked on the chest compressions on her daughter. Nick realized this had to be hard on a mother, but he didn’t want nerves or fear to get in the way.

Suddenly she was sputtering water out of her mouth and Nick rolled her to her side so it wouldn’t go right back into her lungs. He looked up just in time to see Rico hit Eli hard against the temple of his head and then grab the gun from the sand, that looked like Kendra’s and take aim at Eli. Two shots rang out and Nick had to look to see who fired the two shots, Rico or someone else.

Rico laid sprawled out on the sand and Eli was slowly shaking his head to clear the cob webs. From the grass stood Hailey and Molly. Molly’s arm stretched out, gun clutched in her hands.

Guess I, um, am a good shot, eh?” Molly opened her eyes a little more.

Sirens blared in the distance but Nick could barely hear them over the excessive pounding in his chest. He didn’t care about anything except the fact that the woman he loved was going to be alright. She was stubborn and had to take matters into her own hands. That tenacity was part of the reason he loved her so damn much.

Kendra’s mouth tasted fishy, salty and was dry as hell. She was cold but could fee and smell Nick’s jacket covering her. It took a little while for her eyes to focus, and when they did she saw her mother walking through the sand carrying one of her late grandmother’s crocheted afghans.

She could still feel the water inside her stomach and sure enough, Kendra rolled over and heaved out a lot of it into the sand. Luckily her mother hadn’t placed the afghan on her yet. She looked up to find her parents, Nick, Hailey, Eli and Molly standing over her. “Seems like whenever I’m around the ocean, I’m throwing something up.”

Wanna a hot dog?” Molly asked with a smile.

Epilogue:

The room was huge. There was no other way for Kendra to describe the Richard’s living room, other than huge. The ceilings were high and walls seemed like they ran on forever. She really didn’t want to be here, but here she was, standing in a black cocktail dress, her hair in ringlettes down her back, and flute full of champagne in her hand. Nick stood beside her, dressed in a charcoal gray suit, with a light purple shirt and a purple and silver striped tie. His hand was on her lower back, and she could feel his thumb caress her, giving her comfort.

When he had introduced her to his mother, Catharine, Kendra’s stomach was close to heaving with nervousness. Catharine was polite and very classy. If she didn’t like Kendra, there was no sign of it. Instead, Nick’s mother thanked her for coming and that it was very nice to finally meet the woman who was making her son so happy.

She really needed to thank Seth for getting her this Prada cocktail dress and Jimmy Choo shoes for this party. His mother was the queen of the charity scene. Tonight was to help expend the library at Boston College. Mrs. Dupree-Richards, no wait that was Dr. Dupree-Richards had her hair in a lovely but very neat up-do and had on a Chanel dress that cost more than Kendra’s house did when she bought it.

Nick’s step-father was a really nice man. He gave Kendra a welcoming hug and then handed her the flute of champagne she was currently sipping on, whispering in her ear that she would need it. Nick seemed to relax after that.

Relax honey.” Nick whispered in her ear, then placing a light kiss on her temple.

Kendra took a sip of her champagne and with her free hand smoothed out her dress of it’s invisible wrinkles. “I’m not sure what I’m doing here Nick.”

He turned to face her. He must have seen the uncertainty in her face because he grabbed her hand and walked her from the huge room and up the large winding stair case. He opened a door and took her into a bedroom. It looked like his old room. Green walls, a double bed with neutral bedding on it, and an Atari hooked up to a television. It was spotless. Medals from school hung on a cork board near a desk that had nothing on top but a few trophies. It was indeed Nick’s bedroom.

Kendra McCartney Morgan you look at me now please.” He said.

She turned around and gave him a funny look, “OK, I’m looking at you. Is this your bedroom?”

Was, and stop trying to distract me.” Nick said as he sat down on the corner of his bed after removing his suit jacket. “Come here and have a seat, and I want you to tell me what is bothering you.”

Kendra kicked off her shoes, which were really pinching her feet, and sat down.

Nick pulled her close to him and kissed her bare shoulder. “I don’t even know how to say it out loud.”

Then just blurt it because the Kendra I know, says exactly what she’s thinking.”

Fine, I don’t think I’m good enough for you. And I don’t think your mother approves either. I’m not Birdie.”

Thank-God. Birdie was psychotic. And what are you talking about? Do you have any idea how lucky I am that you even look at me? I’m a washed up cop and you are an amazing, smart, sexy, powerful, and astute investigator. I’m the one who should be asking that question, how can I be good enough for you?” Nick took her into his strong arms.

Leaning her head on his strong shoulder Kendra spoke her fears. “I am lucky to have you, but I’m so afraid that your mother won’t find me good enough for you and that my career, lack of social stature and the fact that I’m from hippies that she might give you her disapproval. She’s such a smart and elegant woman who has an amazing and respected career that maybe she wants a woman who is more suited her her and yours life style.”

Maybe but it doesn’t matter. Besides when you first met me, did you think I came from a rich family from a high social standing?” He asked.

No I actually didn’t.”

Then why would you think that I would want that. That I would want a clone of my mother? If anything, that is the last thing I want. I want a woman who will make me laugh and smile. A woman who makes me have sex during a stake-out, a woman who has me craving her morning, noon and night. One who is strong minded but also someone who is up for taking suggestions. I’m so in love with your stubbornness, your tenacity, your quick wit, and sexy smile. I’m in love with your brain, eyes, boobs, and dog. I love everything about you, inside and out. I love your little home that you’ve literally made yourself. Do you think I’m going to give up all that you are just to make my mother happy?”

Kendra smiled against Nick’s neck, “I suppose not.”

I can tell that my mother likes you. She knows more about you than you realize. That smile she gave you was genuine and trust me, I am a connoisseur of my mother’s fake smiles.” Nick ran his hand down her back.

They were interrupted by a knock on the door, “come in.” Nick answered.

The door opened and his mother came in with a full flute of champagne with a strawberry slice on the rim, “I thought I would find you two up here. Needed a breather I suppose.”

Yes mother.” Nick said. His mom walked over to the desk and pulled the chair out and sat down. “What brings you up here?”

I wanted to actually talk to the two of you. I haven’t had an opportunity to get to know Kendra.” She smiled at Kendra. “Are you enjoying yourself sweetie?”

Kendra nodded, “I am, thank-you. It is a bit overwhelming, but yes I am.”

Lovely, because I am so bored that I’m ready to kick everyone out of my house except the family of course.” Catharine took a long sip of her champagne.

Mother you live for these things.” Nick said.

Believe it or not Nicholas, I do get tired of these events and I know your step-father does as well. For once I understand what he’s feeling.” She set her glass down on the desk.

How would you like to spend a free weekend Dr. Dupree-Richards?” Kendra asked feeling a bit curious.

Please, call me Catharine dear.” His mother seemed so relaxed sitting there in the chair Nick used to use. “I think I would love to visit my son and spend time at the beach. I would like to wear a pair of jeans and roll them up and walk in the sand bare foot.”

Nick spewed his champagne across the carpet.

Nicholas, that was not necessary.” His mother chastised.

I’m sorry I just didn’t realized you liked sand.” He said in return.

I do, although I haven’t enjoyed it since you children were small. It’s time to retire from teaching and time to live life I think.” Catharine stood up, taking her champagne in her hand and polishing it off.

Are you ill or something?” Nick asked.

Nick, that’s not something you ask your mother when there is a stranger in the room.” Kendra told him.

Catharine walked over to her and put a perfectly manicured finger under her chin and lifted Kendra’s face to hers, “my dear, you are hardly a stranger, but thank-you.” She let go and looked at her son. “No I am not sick Nicholas. I’m just tired.” With that she walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.

See told ya,” he said.

Kendra smiled and kissed him. “I want you to move in with me.”

Nick leaned her back on the bed, “I would love that so much. I love you so much.”

She was going to go for broke here, “I love you too, Nicky.”

A few weeks ago her stomach turned at the thought of meeting Nick’s family at a high class function, but as she watched the U-Haul pulled out of her drive way, Kendra started to feel that nausea again. Nick’s move in had gone smoothly. He had the basement all to himself, one that she had worked hard to finish with the help from her dad and grandfather.

The only part of her that was down there, besides the laundry area, was her ping pong table, which was off in the far end of the basement. Nick’s couches and furniture fit down there perfectly. A guest room was set up and Nick insisted on using his bedroom furniture for it instead of her going out to buy new stuff.

She, Hailey, Molly and Nick’s mother and sister Kayla, helped unpack the basement of Nick’s stuff, while the guys moved stuff in and around. It was a good bonding experience and now they were able to relax. Catharine and Tom were going to be staying in the newly created guest room for the weekend and in about three hours, Kendra’s parents were going to arrive with her brother,and Elton and his new girlfriend Jane, from Children’s services, and Molly’s parents for a back yard barbecue. Nick also invited Barb and Mac and Vula to celebrate her safe return.

First things first, Kendra thought as she could hear Molly and Kayla bustling in the kitchen and Hailey out side with her kids. Kendra walked up stairs and into her bedroom where she saw Nick putting his clothes in the walk-in closet that Kendra never wanted to share with anyone, until she met him.

Closing the door to lock them in for privacy, she walked over to him and wrapped her hands around his neck, pulling him close to her. Kendra’s lips kissed his and he responded by dropping the pants he had in his hands.

I wanna play ping-pong, right now.” Kendra said after their lips parted.

Um, random, but alright.” Nick smiled. “Really, right now?”

Yes, I do. With you and nobody else.” She said then turned, opened the door to the closet and headed to the basement.

Nick thought it was strange that all of a sudden, Kendra wanted to play ping-

pong. He thought he was going to get lucky in the closet but that wasn’t about to happen. Nick picked up the pants he had dropped and quickly hung them up.

He walked through the kitchen, looked at his mother, sister and Molly and shrugged then went down the stairs. At first, he was shocked at how quickly the women in his life had the basement organized but then he remembered who he was dealing with.

Are you coming?” She called from around the corner.

I wish but apparently I’m just going to be playing some ping-pong.” He laughed.

Kendra smiled at him as he picked up his paddle. She bounced the ball and served it over the net to him, and he returned it. Eventually the first point belonged to him. “Not bad, and although you have the first point, I’m just getting started.”

Bring it,” he laughed.

Nick picked up the white hallow bell and served it hard over to her but she returned it so hard that he missed. Point for her. She was brutal as her serve whizzed by his head and she had yet another point. No rest for the wicked he thought. As she served again, this time he was ready for her and he returned the ball back.

Nick was now up by one point, and his loving girlfriend didn’t look happy about it. She played hard and took ping-pong serious. He threw the ball up and served it over the net to her, and Kendra swatted it back.

You know something Nicky,” she back handed her next return.

What babe?” He sent it back.

I’m pregnant.” Kendra returned the ball and it bounced off his forehead.

He reached up and rubbed the spot on his forehead where the ball had hit. He suddenly had no interest in the game. Placing the paddle on the table, Nick rounded the table, stepping over Hardy who was laying beside it.

You lose,” she said as she rounded the table to meet him half way.

Nick came to stand directly in front of her, “no,” he paused, “I win.”

At this moment, he couldn’t have been any happier. Nick gently picked her up and kissed. He could feel her lips curl into a smile as she kissed him back. Life was good, Nick thought. Life was so good.

Molly & Kendra: Together (book 1 of 3)

Epilogue:

As best friends go, Kendra Morgan and Molly Westin were more than best friends. They were like sisters, always joined at the hip, finishing each other’s sentences, and were always there for one another. Since the age of seven, these two girls were never apart, despite the fact that they were the exact opposite. Twenty years later, they were still each other’s, other-half.

Unlike other girls their age, Kendra and Molly never had monumental fights over stupid things, such as which Barbie they wanted to play with, or which New Kid On The Block member was their future “husband”. Kendra always went with the baby-faced Joey McIntyre and Molly, the rough and bad boy of Donnie Wahlberg. Molly’s mother, Crystal, always said the reason her girls never had childish fights like most girls, was because they were so different. Molly was the science-fiction, brainiac, and Kendra was the tom-boy who preferred wrestling to girlie shows on television. Most of their arguments over the years were more debate than fights. They argue their points, often to the most brutal points, but would always end up with saying, “too each, their own.”

Their journey included many family trips, antics and soul searching. Both Molly and Kendra could never really settle down in one career, often both getting bored so easily. Both struggled to find something that suited them both. Molly experimented in many different aspects of careers, like working in an Oscar Mayer plant stuffing hot dogs, worked as an assistant for a very fussy photographer, and her most challenging and rewarding was working as a computer analyst. But none really held her attention for very long. Kendra bounced from one career to another, first working as waitress at a strip joint, then at a funeral home applying make-up to dead people, was a very bad massuse, and spritzing women walking through the mall with perfume that smelled like decaying fruit.

She preferred the dead people, as they didn’t try to attack her if she put the wrong colour of blush on their faces.

A year ago, the two “besties”, as they called themselves, met up at a near by Starbucks to bitch about their careers at the time. Molly mentioned that the only real fun she had at the computer job was cyber stalking her ex-boyfriends, and Kendra said that people hated their medicine cabinets and bathroom drawers gone through. Before they realized it they both were talking about going back to school to get to learn what they do best. Snoop.

Detective Eli Savidis woke up in the strange smelling room, with sunlight filtering in through the vinyl green curtain with tiny holes in it. For some reason he was laying on his left side, but despite the uncomfortable position he was feeling pretty damn good. He didn’t have his glasses on which made everything blurry,

but he soon realized that the strange smell was the smell of a hospital. It wasn’t until he rolled on to his back that he remembered why.

Yep,” a voice broke the silence, “you got shot in the ass.”

What the fuck?” Eli swore, “what happened?”

Eli’s partner, Nick Dupree, stood up and placed Savidis’ glasses on his face for him. “Bust went south,” he explained.

Both detectives came up in the force together but had only been partnered together once they were transfered into narcotics. Last night was suppose to be the biggest bust in Eastdale’s history. Both Eli and Nick managed to bust in on Chico Ramone and his croonies making crystal meth in their homemade meth lab. Trouble was, they neglected to wait for back-up and the warrant. Not to mention, Chico ran. He just jumped through a covered up window and ran, and Eli took off after him, leaving Nick to fend for himself against three others. There was a girl passed out on the floor with a needle sticking out of her arm, so Nick radioed for a medical response team, but as he was doing that, one of the rats smacked him over the head and took off with Nick’s weapon.

I was shot in the ass with your gun?” Savidis dropped his head back on the pillow. “How much crap are we in?”

A lot. I just came from Lieutenant Jackson’s office.” Nick leaned forward, placing his forearms on his denim clad thighs, and dangled his hands in the space between his knees. “Depending on the Internal Affairs investigation, we can either expect to be jobless or demoted to property crimes or back to vice.”

Ah Christ.”

Chapter 1:

Molly Westin pushed her caramel-blonde hair behind both ears as she looked over the books. Six months ago, Molly and Kendra opened their own Private Investigating service called Diva P.I’s. The had only four cases, all solved and all their clients were happy and ready to give recommendations. Their books, however, not in the black yet, were looking a bit better. Molly knew that the start-up costs were going to be brutal, with the office space they needed, and of course Kendra’s need for the best surveillance equipment, although Molly admitted was necessary for them to be as efficient as they are, not to mention it made them look awesome.

Kendra opened the door to her friends home office. Her heels muted her approach on the plush white carpet. Her face in a scowl, as she held up a small device, “really?”?

Molly raised her gaze from the program on her laptop, “what?”

You bugged my home phone.”

Oh yeah I was testing the equipment.” Molly answered, pasting on her best I’m innocent smile on her face.

Kendra lowered her brows before asking, “did it?”

She shrugged, “I dunno, I got bored listening to Matt trying to talk you into a booty call and you saying ‘in your dreams, butt-munch’. Very classy by the way. It got boring.”

You know,” Kendra began, “never mind.”

No, what?”

The bug works.”

Molly squinted at her best friend, “how do you know?”

Kendra flopped down in a lime green chair, “I bugged your phone last month, but unlike me, you calling Michael for sex was ridiculously hilarious.”

Molly stuck her tongue out and said, “bite me!”

Kendra leaned forward placing her hands on her thighs, “what cha’ doin’?

She handed Kendra the book she was copying into her lap top, and sat quietly as her partner looked over them. Either Kendra didn’t understand what she was reading, or she thought they could be better, because she was doing that chewing on her bottom lip thing. “Well?”

Not too bad,” her answer surprised Molly. “I mean for only a handful of cases, this number isn’t too bad. All we need is one really big case to roll in, and we should be even.”

Ken, I’m shocked,” Molly paused, “I though you were going to freak out.”

No you didn’t.”

Yes I did.”

Kendra shook her head, “no you thought I had no idea what I was looking at.”

No-oh,” Molly gasped, “OK I totally did.”

Well Molls, I could freak out, and be all negative-Nelly about this, but the I would be emulating Lola, and although I love the Lol-ster dearly, she is miss negativity.” Kendra explained.

What did your mother say this time?” Molly asked.

Kendra grabbed a handful of her long, chocolate brown hair and twisted it, “she’s going on about how being a private investigator isn’t lucrative enough, and that I’ll lose my house, yadda-yaddayadda.”

Ignore her.”

I am.”

Good.”

Kendra looked around her besties office. The walls were white which conflicted with Molly’s colourful personality, but the light was all natural light which helped Molly with her various craft work and art that she liked to dabble in as her hobby. The only colours were the bright lime green and bright orange plush chairs she has in front of her computer desk. A Mac sat on the one corner and her lap top sat in the middle today. Her desk was a light birch colour, and had papers everywhere. Her poodle shaped mug had pens and markers filling it. On the other side of the room was a floor to ceiling wall unit with various shelves and cubbies for her scrapbooking paper and supplies, in the middle was a pull out table that had her sewing machine on it. On the other side of the wall unit was all her paint and art supplies and closet full of rolls of material and yarn was on the one wall. A large window allowed light to filter in casting the room in an almost blinding light with all the white walls and carpet. Molly’s printer and scanner sat on a three-foot high shelf just under the windowsill behind her desk. On the shelf with the printer and scanner were poodle memorabilia. It wasn’t until she spotted a stuffed purple poodle that she realized something was missing.

Hey Molls, where’s the poodle?”

Her head snapped up, “aw shit! I think he’s still on the deck.” Molly got up, Kendra was right behind her and she headed to the patio doors right off the kitchen-dining room. Her standard apricot poodle, Chewbacca, fogged up the glass as he waited for his owner to let him in.

Bad dog owner!” Kendra laughed.

Oh yeah, well, where’s Hardy?”

In his dog bed at home, probably just discovered his balls were gone and I just couldn’t be there when he realized there was nothing to lick.” Kendra greeted Chewbacca. “No I couldn’t Chewy, nope, Hardy won’t have any more balls.”

By the way, and I’m not trying to mock your impeccable fashion sense or anything, but what is with dressy clothes?” Molly asked as she refilled Chewbacca’s water dish.

We have a meeting with a possible new client in twenty-minutes.” Kendra then plugged her ears.

SHIT!” Molly screeched, then turned on her poodle slippers and ran to her closet. “I have no time to shower, do I smell?”

Not more than usual,” Kendra said as she dug out a bottle of Angel Kiss and sprayed her friend. “Nope!”

Molly looked at her than laughed, “old habits?”

Yep!” Kendra reached over her friend who was stripping down and grabbed a sunshine yellow blouse with three-quarter inch sleeves, and gray skirt with white pin-stripes, and the matching jacket out of her closet. When she looked up she

noticed her friend had on the nastiness looking underpants on. “What the fuck are those?”

Looking down she responded with, “wash day.”

Jesus, even some of the dead people I used to dress had better underpants then those mofo’s.”

She laughed. “Will panty-hose even fit over those granny gotchies?”

Molly pulled up the hose over the hideous panties and snapped the waistband in check, “yep,” then laughed.

And before you asked, yes I’m wearing panties.”

How’d you know I was going to ask?”

Cause, I know you. Plus I worked really hard to get no visible panty lines in this skirt.” Kendra ran her hand over her smooth behind in the black pencil skirt she chose to wear.

Molly zipped up her skirt, and tucked in her blouse before grabbing the matching jacket, “good job short-stack. Ready!”

The sun blasted through the windshield of the beige Taurus, as it sat in front of a large white colonial style home. Inside the car, the hot sun was baking the remnents of a bean burrito, a dried slice of pizza sitting on the dash and two very cranky property-crime detectives. Detectives Savidis and Dupree, were keeping a close eye on the house of Cuban art-dealer, Rudolph Marceno. They have a good inside source that Marceno is re-producing stolen art and then selling the fakes to other collectors who believe their art is the real deal. Detectives Eli Savidis switched his weight on to his left him, as the right butt-cheek was still a bit tender. He knew this job of sitting all day was part of his punishment.

This car smells like ass,” Nick complained.

Yeah, I know. Until our replacements come, we are stuck in the ass-mobile.”

I never should have ate the shwarma, my gut feels like it’s going to explode.”

When did you eat a shwarma?” Eli wondered.

Nick put down the binoculars and looked at his partner, “when we stopped on Third, and you went to the bathroom. I ordered a shwarma.”

Chicken or beef?”

Beef.”

Nice!”

Not really.” Nick rubbed his stomach. “I really hate stake-outs. Stake-outs mean bad food, and fat asses. Now I’m gonna have to go to the gym before I head home.”

Eli nodded, “true, although I just have sex. More of a fun way to burn off calories.”

Patsy again?”

Yeah she’s stalking me, and I don’t seem to care. She isn’t smart enough to know that for now it’s just a way for me to get off but there isn’t a relationship.” Eli went on.

Nick looked at his partner, “good luck with that.” Eli laughed.

The two continued to watch Marceno’s home in silence. The worst part of stake-outs was the heat. The sun baked the detectives like a pair of potatoes, and

there was nothing they could do about it. If they turned on the car for air conditioning then they would give themselves away. Winter was worse though. No heat, meant risk to exposure and hypothermia.

A two door black Honda Civic pulled up into the long drive way. Nick sat up straighter and put the binoculars to his eyes. A short, but hot brunette got out of the driver’s side wearing a very tight skirt, and a tall hot blonde got out of the other side.

Whoa, it’s times like these, when I love my job.” Nick exclaimed. “The young wife’s hot young friends.”

Eli put his binoculars up to his face and looked through, “Yeah I see what you mean. Very nice view.” He put the noculars down and went to write it into the log book. When he picked up the black book they were writing in, he noticed that Marceno’s wife left an hour ago. “Hey now, they’re not Marissa’s Marceno’s friends.”

What?”

She left an hour ago, remember?”

That’s right.” Nick kept watching as the two hot women, knocked on the big double doors.

Well then they can’t be high-end clients. They drive a Civic.”

It would be nice if they were clients, because then we could get this friggin’ over with.” Eli took a sip of his now cold coffee. “But I’ve learned to expect the unexpected so those two hotties very well could be clients.”

Running the plate,” Nick said as he called the station. Then waited as the plate was being ran. “OK thanks.” Nick scribbled down the information in his note book. “Car belongs to Kendra Morgan, 27, lives in Eden Heights. No priors, no parking tickets, and no speeding tickets in the past six years.”

Nothing else?” Eli questioned.

Not at the moment, Officer Baker is running a more thorough background check. Said he’d get back to me as soon as possible.”

Detective Savidis sat back in the driver’s side of the car, slid his mirrored Oakley sunglasses down from their perch on his forehead and watched carefully. The two women walked into the house after being greeted by the maid. Part of him was hoping that they were friends of the young maid, but he knew that was far fetched. He had a major thing for blondes, but not the fake kind, but ones with hair the colour of butter caramel, like Ms. Morgan’s friend. He watched her from the distance, and liked what he saw. This job wasn’t always such a hardship for him. Sure he’s baking right now in his jeans and dress shirt, but he’s got a great view. Without realizing it, Eli pulled the visor down and checked out his hair. His blonde hair was sticking up funny on one side, but after eying it carefully he noticed it worked for him. He licked his pinky fingers and smoothed out his blonde eyebrows.

Dude?”

What?”

Nick shook his head, “are you visor grooming?”

Eli looked up, he was indeed visor grooming, as his partner called it. “Yeah I suppose I was.” Nick started laughing, “stop laughing, I know you’ve done it in the past.”

Nick didn’t deny it, but returned his focus back to the binoculars and watched the house.

The women were gone.

For half an hour the Detectives waiting impatiently. Nothing came back yet on the background check on Kendra Morgan, and the mystery women were still inside. They didn’t look like hookers or call-girls, so Nick didn’t think they were there for sex. Although he wouldn’t object if they were and coming on to him, but the fact is, Rudolph Marceno was a fat, domineering pig. But he was rich, and Nick was not.

Kendra sat next to Molly on the light blue and white striped sofa. The very thin maid with the very short skirt told them to make themselves comfortable and Mr. Marceno would be along shortly. Kendra didn’t think that she had a brain but that her legs probably got her the job. She knew how this interview was going to go. All the rich husbands kept their wives on a short leash, and wanted them to see if their young wife is cheating on them with someone better looking and much younger. So far three out of the four cases were this exact one. Kendra didn’t even try to make conversation with Molly as she knew they would both start laughing. It wasn’t such a far stretch to know that they were both thinking the same thing.

The large heavy dark mahoganny wood doors opened slowly, and in walked, bald head held high, was an over-weight man with a Cuban cigar hanging out of the left side of his mouth. He had to weight almost 300-pounds. But he walked silently and smoothly. His dress shirt was unbottoned half way down his chest, exposing graying curls, and a gold chain. His dark blue dress pants were held up by suspenders and he left his matching suit jacket undone. Kendra and Molly stood up as he approached.

Ladies, so very nice to meet choo. My name is Rudolph,” he introduced himself, his thick Cuban accent strange to hear this far north. “Please have a seat.” He sat down in a wing-backed chair, and Kendra mentally held her breath as the legs creaked, loudly, then sat back down on the sofa.

Mr. Marceno,” Molly began, only he held his hand up.

Please call me Rudolph, no need for the formal.”

Right, then. Rudolph, my partner and I are interested in to hearing what kind of work you would like us to do for you.” Molly started. He was an interrupter.

I would like you to cheek” he said instead of ‘check’, “on my wife. She has a new yogar instructor and I think that she is messing around.” Rudolph explained as he moved his left hand around, his cigar taking a ride in between his thick fingers. “Can you do that, and promise to be discreet?”

Kendra nudged Molly with her elbow, afraid to speak, as she’s watched too many episodes of “I Love Lucy” not to laugh at his Desi Arnaz-like accent. Molly took the cue and nodded as she spoke. “I can assure you that we are more than

discreet. But even as investigators we cannot always predict where the subject will be and need help from you,” she hesitated, “Rudolph.”

Of course, I help anyway I can. How?” He puffed on his Cuban.

Kendra finally felt controlled enough to answer, “well what we will need from you is an update to her schedule. Like if she has hair appointments, or when her,” she paused as not to say yogar instead of yoga, like he did, “her yoga appointments, basic stuff like that.”

Rudolph nodded silently then with a gesture to urge her on more.

Basically we need you to explain,” Kendra went on as Molly closed her eyes knowing that her partner was trying to get Marceno to say explain. “Mrs. Marceno’s itinerary.”

Ah, I can have her scheduale emailed to you later today. I think we are finished for the afternoon ladies.” He stood up and the girls followed suit. He reached into his right front pocket, after sticking his cigar back into his mouth, and pulled out a wad of cash. “How much to get started?”

Molly looked at the money in his chubby hands, “we will stick with the quote we gave you over the phone when you telephoned us yesterday. But we usually except checks, sir.”

No.” He said bluntly. “I can’t have money trail. Wife is smarter this time around and she could cash on.”

Just as the front door opened, the Detectives were in the middle of switching shifts.

Detectives Savidis and Dupree made their replacements duck as they filled them in, but watched the two women come out. Unlike the casual walk they had when they went into the house, the two were a bit more stiff walking out. More tense.

OK you guys, get in your car and stay put. We are going to follow the dames,” Eli said as he started up the car.

Dames? Who talks like that?” Nick asked.

Eli shrugged, “I dunno, but I’ve always wanted to say that.”

Chapter 2:

The next day the girls got to work. Mr. Marceno emailed them his wife’s schedule, and the two of them planned their surveillance on Marissa Marceno. Their office was in a small office building that looked over the Marina. It was only one room with a big window and a small two piece bathroom.

Their desks sat across from one another, and they set up a small coffee/cappuccino station in the one corner and had their walls a nice soothing toffee colour.

If all went well they would be able to close this case and collect the full fee that Mr. Creepy was offering them. Which was double the estimate they gave them. It would definitely put them in the black and then they wouldn’t have to worry about losing money on their business. Something both worried about but never really voiced to each other. They were so close that they didn’t have to tell each other they were worried. The last thing either Kendra or Molly wanted was to be involved in yet another career that went no where. They were good at this, they enjoyed it, and it was theirs.

Kendra took out her note book from her large Coach bag and started making notes on what their schedule would be. The first day they both would start off doing on site surveillance at the Marceno home to get a feel for it, and then would separate for the rest of the day. One would follow the yoga instructor, that would be Molly since she called heads and the coin landed on heads, and Kendra would follow Marissa. The next day would go differently. As she scribbled down notes, her one-year old English bulldog, Hardy, snored on his purple plush dog bed from under desk. With the odd loud snort from the funny dog, Molly would lift her head up from where she sat across the room and raise an eyebrow and then laugh. Her dog never snored. Poodles don’t snore.

Molly walked over and plunked her denim clad butt on Kendra’s desk, knowing that it pissed her off. She had on her skinny jeans, which she claimed were her most comfortable to do surveillance in but ended up bitching about out tight they were before half of the job for the day was done. Her long, black fitted t-shirt covered her slender curves and a pair of red ballerina slipper-type shoes were on her feet. Her hair was pulled back in a messy pony-tail and she looked relaxed, but she wasn’t.

Why do I have a feeling that this case is going to get us killed?” Molly suddenly voiced loudly.

Well I would say killed, but probably shot at. Could be because the dude is a creeper.”

Kendra said as she leaned back in her brown leather chair, “and get off my desk. I eat there you know.”

Molly smiled and took a seat in the brown arm chair in front of Kendra’s desk. “I wondered how long it would take you to tell me to move.”

It would have been sooner but I was thinking of something else.” Kendra flipped her note book closed and tossed it in her purse. “And before you ask, it has

nothing to do with Matt or anyone in particular. I was just thinking about the case.”

Let me guess, how NOT to get killed.”

Yeah pretty much. That guy is just so creepy.” Kendra sneered.

He probably hadn’t thought of killing us until you tried to get him to sound like Desi Arnaz.”

Sure blame me. But it was the only thing that kept me from thinking whether or not I want to be buried or cremated.”

Cremated. You already told me and your family that’s what you want.” Molly reached down to her leg when Hardy crawled up to her on his belly. He licked her hand.

Still that was what was going through my head. Regardless, we have a job to do and if we survive, we will be fine money wise. I don’t feel like taking a second mortgage on my house.” Kendra pushed her chair back and stood up. “Speaking of which, we should head out. Mrs. Marceno’s yogi should be there in about twenty-minutes.”

Kendra grabbed her Coach bag, and Molly grabbed her Chanel and the two of them took off to go spy on Marissa Marceno.

Nick sat in his unmarked car down the street from Eli’s unmarked car. Watching the Marceno house. His head was pounding from his lack of sleep. There was a lot of noise going on outside his condo door last night. That old lady had her great grand-children over again and was letting them run up and down the halls really late at night. It took all his strength not to open the door and point his gun at the little buggers. Except he would never do that, but he was tempted to open the door and give them his infamous evil glare. And if that wasn’t bad enough, his ex-girlfriend kept calling his place last night, in tears, trying to get him to take her back. For an over-educated psychology professor she was dumber and pathetic than he originally thought. Birdie Stevenson was never really his type, except for in the brain department, but she was kind of boring and almost too smart. He wanted someone on his level who could make him laugh. Someone he was equal with. He always did love the brunettes. But Birdie was driving him nuts, and to think he was making fun of Eli’s ex-girlfriend, the hair dresser from hell, and now here he was with his own stalker. Granted Birdie was always whiny and obnoxious when she was drunk, which she was when she harassed him all night. Nick leaned back in his car seat and tried not to fall asleep. Then he saw the familiar Honda Civic he saw yesterday, drive slowly by and park down the street near Eli’s car. He picked up his cell phone.

Yeah, I see her.” Eli said as he picked up.

Is it just her?” Nick asked.

So far. She got out alone and is heading to the side of Marceno’s house.” Eli slowly gave a play by play.

What is she wearing?” Nick wondered out loud.

What?”

Just kidding. But her friend just pulled up in front of me.” Nick said as a silver Toyota Matrix pulled in front and the blonde got out. “She’s wearing really tight jeans my friend.”

Nick could hear Eli groaning, then finally Eli said, “if the brunette leaves, you follow, and if the blonde leaves, I’ll follow.”

He didn’t want to say it but he had to be said, not just for Eli’s own good but for Nick’s.

Maybe I should follow blondie and you take the brunette. I’m only saying this because you think with your dick on more occasions than I am, and that usually leads you to do something really dumb and very un-Eli-like.”

There was silence on the other end of the cell, “yeah you’re right. I’ll take the brunette and you take blondie.” He hung up.

Nick grabbed the binoculars and watched as the blonde tip-toed down the one side of the house. “She’s tip-toeing?” He said to himself. The blonde pushed her self, chest forward against the side of the house and inched her way toward the giant window. Nick would have laughed but he was still confused as to why she was there. Then all of a sudden, the blonde dropped down into the bush that was just outside of the window. Nick then laughed.

Molly didn’t know why, but she felt like someone was watching her. Her only thought was to get out of plain sight so she dropped down into the bush. She hated the outdoors. Hated bugs and things that scratched her skin. It was so icky. She peered very subtly out of the bush and down the street. There was a black car parked just behind hers but it looked empty. Still the feeling settled in her stomach. She reached for her cell phone just as it buzzed with a text message from Kendra. She hated text messages. Molly couldn’t text if her life depended on it and when she did, Kendra always made fun of her as to how long it took her to text back “OK.”.

Molls…they r out bk on patio. B stealth!” the text read.

Molly dialed Kendra’s phone. “No shit!” She said as soon as Kendra picked up. “I feel like I’m being watched.”

Funny, so do I. But I had a giant oak tree that I used for cover. My boobs are still not hidden well.” Kendra whispered. “They are doing yoga.”

You have visual?”

Yeah, don’t you?” Ken asked.

No, I’m in a bush.” Molly heard Kendra suppress a laugh. “It’s not funny. I hate the outdoors.”

I know that’s why it’s funny.” Kendra hung up before Molly could yell at her.

Molly closed her phone and stuck in her back pocket before standing up, she quickly checked the inside of the room where the window looked into. Nobody was inside so she proceeded towards the back. She squatted behind a giant lilac bush and watched the yoga instructor and the wife.

The yoga instructor was hot. He was young, maybe mid-twenties. His blonde hair was short, and neatly in placed. He wore spandex shorts, which ordinarily would have been a major turn off, but from Molly’s position the man’s ass was perfect

and so was his package. He had nice cheek bones and one of those perfectly set brow lines. He was too perfect. Her phone buzzed with another text.

Hubba-hubba!”

She sent back, “Lol.”

It was at this time that Molly was happy to have the chance to follow the yoga instructor.

She would have to get back to her car before he left so she headed that way now. A smile was fixed on her face as she adjusted her black sunglasses her face, what a good day.

Twenty minutes later the yoga session ended and Kendra made her way back to the car as fast as she could. What she caught on the wire was that he was headed to another appointment, which she quickly texted to Molly. Lucky bitch. And Marissa was headed for a day of shopping and spa treatment. Her ear hurt from the tiny ear bud speaker she had in and her knees hurt since it’s been a long time since she’s spent that amount of time on her knees for anything.

She got into her car and waited. Kendra was in perfect position to see when Mrs. Marceno left the house. She noticed that Molly was already gone, off following the hottie. Kendra sat there for another hour while she waited. A crappy beige clunker sat behind her. A little out of place for this neighbourhood. She wasn’t sure what she thought but figured it was probably one of the Cuban’s toadies.

Eli sat looking at the black Civic for what felt like an hour. She was just sitting there. He found out from Nick that her friend’s name was Molly Westin and that she lived in a new subdivision of town-houses, not far from where his warehouse apartment was. They were private investigators according to their social security background checks. They had very little incomes but lived in nice homes which were both double mortgaged for their business. As for investigators, they both sucked, as far as he could tell. You would remember two beautiful women creeping around a house too easily.

Nick also told him that she followed Detective Scott Truman from the house back to the Police Station, and that Nick had to call him to have him change plans. Their cover was almost blown by a blonde P.I..

Mrs. Marceno pulled out of the garage and started down the road, and off went the black Civic with Ms. Morgan inside. Eli placed his sunglasses back on his face and headed out after the two females, which both were starting to be a giant pain in his ass. He stayed far enough back, which puzzled him because Ms. Morgan wasn’t very close to the BMW convertible being driven by Marissa Marceno. In fact she wasn’t doing a very good job at tailing her, but still managed to end up at the day spa where Mrs. Marceno stopped at. He scratched his short hair as he watched Ms. Morgan get out of her civic and head inside behind the Cubans wife.

Molly followed the yoga instructor all over the place, and she was starting to get fed up since she took mercy on Kendra’s soul and gave the tracking device to her to put on Marissa’s car. She should have had it to put on the Yogi’s car instead. All he did was drive around, aimlessly. She was cursing her partner for having

the nerve to guilt her into the tracking device when a black sedan pulled out in front of her making her slam the brakes on.

A short guy with black curly hair yelled “Sorry” out the driver’s side window, then drove off but it was just enough time for Molly to lose complete sight of the Yoga instructor. Shorty had the nerve to smile as he yelled his apology at her too. He was lucky she was too stunned to get out of the car and kick his short ass. The plan was when you lose your tail, return to the office and start your daily report in regards to the case. With the hot guy in spandex now a distant dream for now, Molly returned back to the office and let both dogs out to do their business.

Nick caught up with Eli later that evening at the station and went over the events of the day.

Eli looked confused and Nick was still laughing at the look on Ms. Westin’s face when he cut in front of her and yelled a very un-heartfelt apology out his window to her. He placed a bag sopping with grease in front of Eli with a burger and fries inside and then sat at his desk. He grabbed his hot dog and ate it while his partner opened the bag almost cautiously. As soon as Savidis saw that it was his favourite he tore open the bag and dug the food out.

Glad you like it.” Nick said with a mouthful of hot dog.

I’m starved. Those chicks never eat.” He grabbed a handful of fries and shoved them into his mouth making noises of ecstasy.

Oh dude, I can live without the sound affects.” Nick pulled out his chili-cheese fries and squirted mayonnaise on it from a squeeze packet. “So what did you learn?”

Eli swallowed his food, “I learned that the brunette is a better investigator than I gave her credit for. She followed the wife, on opposite streets. She was never behind her at any time.”

What? How is that even possible?”

I have no clue, by the time I realized that they were in that day spa for a long time, I was about to get out and check their cars, and they came out. Laughing and talking to one another.” He squeezed some ketchup on his fries. “So the brunette, Ms. Morgan, made contact and basically enjoyed a nice spa day, while I roasted and starved to death in my shit box.”

Nick fed a forkful of his chili-cheese fries with mayo into his mouth, chewed then swallowed. “I wasted a ton of gas following your girlfriend around. I got so fed up, as did Scott, that I decided to cut her off.”

How?”

I drove around her and turned left in front of her. She slammed her breaks on and just

missed me. I stuck my head out the window and smiled my charming smile, and said sorry.” He

demonstrated his charming smile for his partner. “Man that woman has a mouth on her. I couldn’t hear

her but I could read her lips.”

Eli laughed. “Good job. Where’d she go after you did that?”

To their office. I followed her up to the fifth floor. They have this tiny little office just off the stairs. I was thinking of doing a little investigation myself on our Divas.” Nick ate more fries. “It would be too easy to get into their office.”

I’ll go with you, I have nothing planned tonight.” Eli started on his giant hamburger with the works on it.

Kendra leaned back on her brown leather desk chair, with her feet up on her desk. Her short skirt of her black dress riding up her thighs as she relaxed. She hated writing daily reports, but she hated being in the office alone without Molly even more. There was always something about the building that creeped her out. Might be the night janitor who looked an awful lot like Robert Englund from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies that frightened her. She was wearing jeans earlier on during her and Molly’s investigation but she had a dinner date with Matt, her ex-boyfriend. The two of them had managed to remain friends despite the fact that he was always trying to get her to sleep with him.

Even though they were no longer dating, she always wanted to look her best for him. Nothing wrong with teasing. Plus she had a pedicure and manicure as well as a facial today while tailing Marissa Marceno, and bought the little black dress with the tight bodice she was wearing while shopping behind Mrs. Marceno. Best tailing job ever. Her red pumps extended her short legs and gave her a sexy edge to her sexy dress. Matt had been drooling when she walked into the restaurant they always met at. He tried everything in the book to get her to come home with him, and despite the fact it was starting to get hard to say no, Kendra managed and grabbed her bag and left him there. With the check. However, minor regrets flooded her as she sat in her dark office alone with her dog at her feet, writing out her daily report.

She looked at the clock and it read 9:30pm, it was time to go home. Kendra couldn’t sit there any longer and her dog was starting to bug her to go to bed.

OK Hardy, we’re going.” She leaned over to shut down her Purple iMac, when she heard a scrapping at the door. Kendra took a closer at the door handle and saw that it was jiggling. She grabbed her hefty bulldog and headed to the bathroom and locked the door. Her purse and cell phone left in her desk drawer. “Shh…” She whispered to her dog as her hand clamped over his pudgy snout. The door from the hallway opened. Kendra knew it wasn’t the janitor since he was already in earlier, but she wondered if it was the fat Cuban guy there to kill her or Molly.

A slight thud happened followed by a whispered, “Jesus Christ.” Kendra knew that wasn’t a Cuban accent. Following the curse she heard a, “Shh…”. Kendra felt her dog building into a growl as he was pressed tightly into her arms. She then shushed him.

A drawer to Molly’s desk opened as did another, she assumed was her desk. There was two men in the other room. Kendra was screwed. A few more desks drawers opened and some shuffling of papers, and Hardy grew more tense in his owners arms. Kendra knew he was going to bark and there was nothing she could do to stop it. He let out a loud snort, covering her hand in snot, and without

realizing what she done, she removed her hand to wipe the snot off on a paper towel and he let out a woof.

What the fuck was that?” Eli gasped, as he nearly dropped the flashlight into a red purse.

There’s a purse here.”

Nick walked over to the desk with the purse in the drawer and looked. “What’s the driver’s license?”

Eli picked it up and shined his flashlight on it, “Kendra Morgan.” He looked at Nick, then at the picture of the bulldog puppy on her desk. He silently gestured to the bathroom door to his partner. “She’s in there,” he whispered.

Nick walked over to the door as quietly as possible, and just as he was about to open it, Kendra Morgan stepped out and fell right into him. Knocking him to the floor. “Oomph!” Nick gasped.

Kendra’s hands went to the guys shoulders, they were strong under her touch, but there was no time to get all touchy feely with a stranger in her office. “Who are you? And what are you doing in my office space?” Hardy jumped out and was barking at Eli.

First make your dog shut up please, and we’ll tell you.” Eli said.

Nick placed his hands on her waist and helped Kendra to her feet. “Hardy, come!” The dog sat down and stopped barking. “I said come, not sit.” She snapped her fingers as she adjusted her breasts in her dress so they wouldn’t pop out. The dog came and sat at her feet. “Now, who the hell are you?”

Detectives Savidis and Dupree,” Eli said as he flashed his badge to the busty brunette.

Nick was too busy gawking.

Chapter 3:

Kendra stood there in shock. The police were in her office, and to her knowledge, she and Molly had done nothing wrong.

I’m sorry, but why are you in my office? My partner and I are legit and have all our required documents.” Kendra stated. She wasn’t going to back down, especially since they were the once breaking and entering.

The short detective tore his gaze away from her cleavage, which was starting to make her feel uncomfortable. “We are aware of that. Actually the reason we are here is because, um,” he looked to his partner for help but instead he just shook his head.

Can I at least see a warrant?” Kendra asked, exerting her sense of control over the strange and uncalled for situation.

The taller detective with the yellowy blonde hair stepped forward and interjected himself in front of his partner. “We don’t actually have a warrant. The reason we broke in was because we are on a case that may or may not involve you and your partner. Inadvertently involve you.”

Kendra folded her arms under her chest, “how?”

What detective Savidis is trying to say is,” the little guy said as he stepped forward, “we might benefit from your help. We followed you and your partner today from the Marceno home in White Oaks, and your reason for being there in the first place, might just help us out.”

My partner and I are on a case. A case in which neither of us can actually discuss due to confidentiality issues.” Kendra explained as she crossed the room to her desk to pick up her purse, slip on her red pumps and grab Hardy’s leash.

Despite the fact the shorter detective with the short dark, curly hair was kinda sexy, he was making her nervous with his charm. He was too charming. And she learned from Matt that charming isn’t always better. He stepped forward, still campaigning for his and his partner’s cause, “please it will save us all, if you just tell us. You don’t have to tell us the details but maybe just why you were hired.”

Who knows Ms. Morgan, maybe in turn we can help you out.” Detective Savidis added for extra measure.

Kendra thought about it a moment. “It’s not really just my decision to make. This is something that I need to discuss with my partner. I will talk it over with her in the morning.” She watched as both detectives nodded in agreement.

Would you settle for leaving me a number where I can reach you to let you know?”

Certainly, and we thank-you.” Detective Dupree said as he handed her his card.

As long as you promise not to break into our office again, I’ll see if I can get her to help you.”

We Promise.” They said together in unison.

* * *

Molly sat down at her desk at mine sharp. It was messier than usual, and she pawed through the pile looking for her notes from yesterdays surveillance. She looked up when Kendra walked in, “have you seen my surveillance notes?”

Ah, no.” Kendra sat down at her desk, putting her pink bag in the drawer. “Anyways, who cares. You should have stayed late last night.”

Why, was Freddy Kruger cleaning outside the door again freaking you out?” Molly asked as she continued to shuffle through the madness.

Ah, no, again. Two really sexy detectives broke in.” Molly looked up. “Honey, they were smokin’ hot.”

OK, but why?”

They need our help.”

On what exactly?”

Kendra walked around her desk, her pink flip-flops slapping her heels. “They wanted to know a few details about the case we are on, and they said that they might be able to help us out.”

You know we can’t tell them anything.” Molly said flatly.

I know Molls, I already told them that, but they asked if we were at least able to tell them the nature of the case we are on. You know, just so that it won’t conflict with theirs. I told them I had to discuss it with you first.”

How kind of you to think of me while your libido was going hay-wire, but that still crosses the line.” She told Kendra. This time more firmly.

Kendra shrugged and walked to her desk, “I have a feeling that if you saw

these two guys, you would sing another tune.”

It was Molly’s turn to stand up and walk over to her best friends desk, “just because you have a thing for police detectives ever since Hunter, doesn’t mean that I do.” She walked back to her desk and started to sort through her papers.

Picking up the phone to give Detective Dupree a call, Kendra avoided eye contact with Molly.

What are you doing?” Molly asked.

The detectives. They need to know that we can’t help them.” Kendra answered, and Molly mouthed “Oh,” back at her.

After a nice fifteen-minute conversation, Kendra hung up the phone and booted up her computer. Molly knew something was up since it’s not common for Kendra to be this quiet. In a way, it was nice since Molly enjoyed a quiet morning, and that’s something that has always alluded her first thing in the morning when she was in the office with Kendra. It just wasn’t normal for Kendra to be quiet at anytime of the day.

At ten, two men walked in. One was short, with dark curly hair, and looked eerily familiar, and was wearing jeans that hung loosely but fit perfectly at the same time, and a white t-shirt that showed off his shoulders and strong arms. The other guy was much taller, blonde, and had a kind of a tired look going on. His hair was flat on one side, pushing the short strands to stand up straight in a weird way. He was pretty sexy. Molly found it strange that Kendra left five minutes before the two men walked in, and she wasn’t stupid. She knew exactly who these two men were. And Molly wasn’t happy.

We are detectives Savidis,” the Blonde one said, then pointed to his partner, “and Dupree. We’re looking for Ms. Westin?”

That would be me, but I’m afraid you made the trip down here for nothing. My partner and I already discussed the issue and we cannot divulge any details of an active case.” Molly said as she stood up from her desk. “I believe my partner told you that on the phone, Detectives.”

That she did, but we are desperate.” Detective Dupree said as he walked towards her. “All we need to know is the reason you both were hired, and then we we will be able to rest easy to let you do your job and we do ours.”

Absolutely not.” Molly opened the filing cabinet and placed a folder in the drawer. She didn’t even look where she put it, because she was too pissed at Kendra to care about her friends meticulous filing system. “We could ruin our reputation if it got out that we broke a confidentiality agreement, not to mention

we could get sued by our client.”

You’re a hard nut to crack.” Detective Savidis said under his breath.

Molly heard him, she had bat hearing. “Actually I’m not a hard nut to crack, but you haven’t given me a viable reason to break our agreement with our client. Now my partner may be hot-to-trot for police detectives, but I cannot be charmed by the two of you.”

She is, eh?” The short one asked, only to be elbowed by the tall one.

Forget her, she’s pissing me off today. NO! The answer is no.” Molly sat down at her desk and crossed her legs. “If it’s that important, get a warrant.”

Eli looked at the blonde in the seat with legs that made him think of sin, and started to hate the female race. How they look so damn good yet frustrate him to the point where he would shoot himself to make them go away. She wasn’t budging, and despite what her partner told Nick on the phone, there was no getting through to this one. Honesty was all he had.

Listen Ms. Westin,” Eli began. “I didn’t want to have to do this, because it’s embarrassing as shit, but we need your help. We screwed up our last assignment so bad that we got demoted from Narcotics to property crimes. Next stop, Bylaw officer. All we want is a tiny detail, one eeny-teeny-tiny detail. Is that really too much to ask?”

Her head fell to the one side slowly, and then she sat up straight. “That bad, huh?”

Yes m’am.” Eli sucked up.

Just then the door opened and the brunette walked in.

Oh hello detectives,” Ms. Morgan smiled.

Nick stood up straighter. “G’morning Ms. Morgan.”

Oh no need for that feminism crap, it’s Kendra. Ms. Morgan makes me sound like a spinster teacher or something.”

Or something,” muttered Molly.

Kendra.” Nick smiled back at her.

Eli nodded, but it was Molly who spoke next. “Detective Savidis here just

informed me that he and his partner desperately need our help.”

Oh really?”

Yeah,” Molly glared. “How did you get demoted from narcotics?”

Nick’s hand flew to his hair and he began to nervously run his hands through the mass of curls, “um, we didn’t wait for back-up and Eli got shot in the butt with my gun.”

What?” Molly said as she tried to supress a laugh.

I wasn’t the one who shot him,” Nick defended.

Are two the peanut gallery of police?”

No, Ms. Westin, it was a lack of judgment that got me shot in the ass. Trust me, I wouldn’t want to do it again.” Eli said slightly annoyed at her cackling laughter. Beautiful woman, horrible laugh.

Fine, we’ll take mercy on your shrapnel infested behind,” Molly said. “We were hired to investigate infidelity.”

Eli nodded, thinking that telling these two women that he was shot in the ass, was not really worth that information now that he heard it. He looked at his partner whose head dropped to look at the floor as if he was thinking the same thing. “I can assure you, that Mrs. Marceno, is not cheating on her husband with the yoga instructor.”

Kendra’s brows creased, “how do you know that’s who we are investigating?”

For starters, you were following both Marissa Marceno, and the yoga instructor. Dead give away.” Nick explained, he was getting frustrated.

OK then, how do you know they are not having an affair?” Molly asked.

Because, the yoga instructor is an undercover police detective.” Nick voiced harshly. Losing patience quickly.

Eli stepped in before Nick said something to piss of their only potential form of help. They needed the two women to help out, whether they wanted them to or not. “Nick, can I speak to you out in the hall for a minute?” Nick nodded and followed.

Nick closed the door behind them, and took a deep breath. “They aren’t

the smartest are they?”

Actually I beg to differ. They were only asking those obvious questions to get to us. It worked. Both of them knew exactly what they were asking when they asked them. Ms. Westin and Ms. Morgan, could be a great asset to our assignment.” Eli said as he ran his hand over the stubble on his face. His five o’clock shadow was about seven hours early.

Nick still wasn’t getting how the two women figured into their assignment. Eli was going to have to explain it to him quickly because the two women behind that door were going to out smart them and he had to make sure they didn’t take this information to the Cuban fatso.

Look at me,” Eli said as he gently smacked Nick’s face, “listen, buddy. We need them. I know you know where I’m going with this. So focus.”

Alright, what’s the plan?” Nick finally asked.

Eli smiled, “just follow my lead, brother, just follow my lead.” He opened the door and quickly checked to see if his partner was behind him.

OK Ladies, we have a proposition for you.” Eli rubbed his hands together. “Can we move the chairs closer together to have a more professionally-intimate chat?”

He likes to call them brainstorming circles.” Nick smiled falsely.

Molly and Kendra pushed the brown leather arm chairs that sat in front of their desks to the middle of the floor while both Nick and Eli grabbed their desk chairs. The girls took the comfortable chairs.

Once seated in a circle, Eli took the helm of the conversation. “What I am thinking is, what if we hire you to help us out?”

Excuse me?” Kendra said.

Like you keep working the case for Rudolph Marceno, only you’re done because you know there is no affair going on. Instead, you pretend you are working the case. I know you are all buddy-buddy with the wife, Kendra, because I followed you yesterday.”

YOU!” Molly hissed at Nick Dupree.

Sorry,” he smiled his most charming of smiles.

No way, that smile doesn’t work on me.” Molly folded her arms across her chest. “Dammit, I knew you looked familiar.”

Again, I am sorry but I had to stop you from following our undercover detective, he had to pee and his stuff was at the Police station. What would you have done?” Nick explained.

Molly looked at Kendra. Kendra shrugged. “Good point. Just don’t do it again.”

We’re getting off topic here, peeps.” Eli interrupted. “I want you both to get on the inside. If Rudolph questions why you’re on the inside and all friendly with his wife, just say that’s how you obtain your information.”

I’m following you so far, go on.” Kendra nodded.

Eli leaned forward, placing his forearms on his thighs. “What we need is to get into the house to find stolen art. We believe that Marceno is forging stolen authentic art, and then selling it as the real stuff. We need to find proof that there is stolen art in the house.”

So we are to try to get invited over and try to search the house without getting caught. Sounds like a shitty deal to me.” Molly questioned. “The reason is because we’re doing all the hard and dangerous work.”

Well what we are thinking, is that they have a huge party every August where they invite tons of people. We want you two to get invites, and then bring us as your dates. While you keep them occupied we can search the house. Which will eventually lead us to get a search warrant.” Eli explained further.

Can we have some time to think about this?” Kendra asked. Eli could tell she wasn’t all that sure of this.

Of course, absolutely. There’s just one more thing. Anything I just told you, cannot leave this room.” Eli mentioned.

Sure, that’s not a problem.” Molly said and Kendra nodded in agreement.

Chapter 4:

Nick tossed the remote control to his television on the square black, bulky coffee table. He was getting fed up with laying around, and sick of Friday night TV. Not to mention something was bothering him in his gut. Part of him didn’t agree with his partner’s plan to include the two private investigators with the details of their case but he wasn’t at a position to say anything. Nick didn’t like having to put trust into two strangers, it made him uneasy. His cell phone rang. It was the security down in the lobby. He had a visitor, although he wasn’t expecting anyone. He picked up the phone and answered, but he wasn’t surprised who his visitor was. “Send her up.”

He pulled on a white tank top and shuffled barefoot to the door of his condo. A quick glance over his shoulder told him that when she saw the look of his condo, she would jump to the conclusion that the mess was because he missed her too much and not because he was just too lazy to clean. He opened the door just as he heard the elevator door open.

Although Birdie Stevenson was slim, and medium height, she walked like she was an elephant. Long, thumping, strides. As she rounded the corner of the hallway, Birdie saw Nick and picked up the pace. She was approaching with a mission. He knew he was screwed.

Nicky,” she said as she practically jumped into his un-waiting arms. “I’ve missed you so much. Please we really need to talk.”

Against his will he said, “sure, why not,” and then escorted inside his place. She walked on the slate flooring in the kitchen and placed her person on the counter next to his refrigerator, then walked across his laminate floor to his couch where she removed her black heel boots. “Why are you here Birdie?”

Her brown eyes scanned the place and her plain shoulder length blonde hair just brushed her shoulders. “You missed me so much that your place looks like a tornado hit it. That is a classic case of depression.”

What is?” Nick asked even though he could care less.

When you lose someone you love, either by break-up or by death. You slip into a depression.”

Sure, why not!”

Nicky, sweetie,” she patted the seat next to her but he remained standing. “Nick, please sit. We really need to talk.”

Unless your pregnant, or dying, we have nothing to talk about.” He said as he walked into his bedroom and grabbed a cardboard box that was full of

some things she left at his place. Nick walked back and put the box on his coffee table hitting an empty ice tea can, “these are your things. Please take them home with you.”

I was thinking that we could live here.”

Birdie, no. We are OVER.” Nick yelled, she jumped back. He felt guilty and lowered his voice to his soft, natural tone. “I’m sorry I yelled but you don’t seem to get it. We broke up two months ago. You couldn’t handle my career, and we were no longer getting along. Sex was even boring between us. When all those things pile on, that means it’s over.”

I made a mistake. I have no problem with your career. You are a hero.” She said.

No I’m not. I’m a fuck-up. Both Eli and I are on our way down the career ladder right now. If I don’t solve this case we were put on soon, we are both traffic cops. I’m stressed right now from work.” He sat down on the other leather couch, next to her. “I can’t worry about us, nor do I have the time to fix us. I’m a ticking time bomb of anger right now.”

You would never get angry with me.” Birdie said as she sniffed.

That’s so not true. I just did, and I will again.”

Birdie reached her thin, small hand over and placed it on his upper thigh. Crap! He thought, she knew exactly how to turn him on, and she was going to try. Nick was about to reach for her hand to put a stop to it but then, he froze. She was kneeling in front of him.

Kendra tossed another one of her Lagostina pots in the garbage. Why she kept trying to make different pasta sauces, was beyond her. In no way could she ever master anything without burning her expensive cookware. She pushed the loose strands of her hair behind her head. Cooking was one of those things that she did to take her mind of work and other stuff that stressed her out. However, she probably should give up on the cooking. She looked up at her clock and noticed she had to leave for Molly’s parents house. They were having a dinner to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary. It was nothing huge, just a few people. The cake she made was in the fridge and she walked over and pulled it out. Two layer, mocha cake, with hazelnut filling and milk chocolate icing. All from scratch. She may not be able to cook, but Kendra could out bake anyone. The cake was perfect. Nice and thick, garnished with strawberries and kiwis on the top.

She made it out to her garage to put the cake on the backseat of her car and then headed back inside to put change quickly and get Hardy.

It was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, and Kendra knew that the little party that Molly planed for her mom and dad was going to be nice. Just Molly, her sister, Hailey, and her family. And that was all. Just the eight of them. Kendra pulled on a pair of denim capris pants, and a long purple fitted t-shirt with three-quarter inch sleeves and a pair of white flip-flops, then re-fixed her pony tail. The dog started to bark just before her door bell rang.

Shit, I don’t have time for Jehovah’s Witnesses.” She huffed but walked to the door. “Hardy sit!” The bulldog sat immediately. As she threw open her heavy wood door that her grandfather and father installed and stopped dead mid sentence, “I’m sorry I’m athi…”

Hey,” the man said as he removed his sunglasses.

Detective Dupree, what are you doing on my porch?” Kendra asked.

Do you have a few? And call me Nick, please.”

She held the door open for him and allowed him inside, “I don’t really. I have a cake in the car and I’m on my way over to Molly’s parent’s house.”

No worries, she’ll be held up since Eli’s over at her place.” Nick said. “Eli called me today, he found out from our department that in order to make anything you girls find in the Marceno home, we have to make you official confidential informants for this case.”

Can you speed up? I really have to go.” She grabbed her huge white framed sunglasses and clipped the leash to her dog. She hit the garage door button and pushed Nick out the front door with her following. Locking the door behind her.

May I just go with you?”

What?”

Can I go with you? We need to talk about this.” He asked

Go. With. Me?” She questioned unsurely. He nodded. “Fine. But you have to hold the cake then ’cause Hardy will have to ride in the back.”

OK I can do that.”

Kendra handed Nick the cake, and heaved her rounded dog into the back seat of her two door civic. Then they got in and headed over to the Westin’s.

Molly was just backing out of her garage when a black jeep pulled in behind her. She banged her hands on the steering wheel. “What the Fu…” she began to say until she saw the detective get out. Molly flung her door open, and got out. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

We need to talk, got a minute?” Eli asked.

No.”

Good, get into my car and tell me where you’re going and we’ll chat.” He demanded.

What? No freakin’ way.”

It’s about the cases and we really need to talk. Where are you going?”

Molly put her hands in her cargo pants pocket. Her blue tank top was sitting just above her belly button. “To my parents for a party.”

OK I’ll go with you, because we need to talk.”

Go. With. Me?”

Eli placed both palms on her bare shoulders and looked into her eyes and slowly said, “yes. Go. With. You.”

You can stop mocking me.” She opened her door and grabbed the leash to Chewbacca, and handed it to Eli. “He goes too.” Then slammed the door and opened her trunk.

Eli put the rust coloured dog into the backseat of his jeep, and then Molly whistled at him and pointed to the ground next to her. “I’m not your dog. If you can call this a dog.”

Help, and not funny.” She pulled one box from her trunk and he leaned over and pulled another one.

Along the way he explained about the informant situation to her. She was regretting more and more that she and Kendra agreed to help the two detectives. Now she was bringing one of them to her parents house. She understood why he had to talk to her, and she got that the case they were working on paled in comparison to Eli and Nick’s, but why did he have to complicate her personal life?

What am I going to tell my parents?”

Tell them what?” Eli asked as he pulled onto a street that had houses that were fifty years old or so.

They’re going to ask who you are, and I can’t tell them that you are a cop I’m currently working with, what the hell am I suppose to tell them?”

Tell them we’re…”

ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

What?” Eli was starting to get pissed.

We are not telling them we’re dating.”

I wasn’t going to suggest that. I was going to say that we are friends and that I’m a fellow private investigator.” Eli explained.

That could work. Can we tell them you’re gay.”

It was now his turn, “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

He pulled his jeep behind Kendra’s black Civic, as Nick got out holding a cake box. He creased his brows at Nick, and Nick creased his back. A whole conversation with just brow creases took place between the two detectives. Eli looked over at Molly who was pulling on the purple covered arm belonging to Kendra. They weren’t having a quiet conversation but a chat through tight lips and smirks.

Ah, Molly, can you get your dog here?” Eli said.

Molly looked up, her blue eyes squinting at him in the sun light, “um no you can. Thanks!” And she walked off toward a path beside the garage that probably lead to the back yard.

Eli watched her move down the path then turned back to the dog, who was chewing the back of his driver seat, while he thought to himself, how the hell am I getting that thing out of there?

Kendra raised her hand to say hi to Eli, he waved back. She grabbed her dog and pulled him out. Hardy huffed and puffed as his robust body and her lack of coordination made it difficult to get him out of the backseat. She placed him on the ground, and wrapped his leash around her wrist, then took the cake box from Nick. “You might want to help out Eli, Molly’s a bit pissed right now.”

No shit?” Nick said, and Kendra smiled at him, as she balanced the cake

and took the leash to Chewbacca.

Kendra flip-flopped down the same path Molly took to the back yard and opened the gate. She dropped the leashes and handed the cake to Molly’s father. “Happy Anniversary Henry.”

Thank-you very much.” he said as he looked down at her. Henry Westin was a man with good height, weight. He golfed on occasion with her dad, and he was so smart that it often intimidated her. For over twenty years, she always feared she couldn’t handle an intelligent conversation with him. If she didn’t, Henry never made her feel otherwise.

Kendra rounded up the tethered dogs and took their leashes off as the boys came through the gate.

Henry looked up, flipping up the sunglasses attached to his eye glasses. Kendra nodded to them, and turned to Henry. “It’s alright, they’re with Molly and I.”

Oh?”

Kendra laughed, “not with WITH us, but friend of ours.” She knew Henry was thinking “more than friends” but never said anything. Kendra gave them quick introductions.

Crystal came outside following her daughters, Molly and Hailey. Hailey’s husband Alex followed behind them. Molly gave quick introductions to Nick and Eli, even though it was evident that she didn’t want them there. Crystal like her husband was a smart woman. She was a hard worker before her retirement. She loved her kids and her family, and excepted Kendra in and treated her like one of her own. She had a classic beauty about her. In her early sixties, she had a face that would make your jaw drop when you heard her age. Crystal’s skin was clear and practically wrinkle free. Her make- up was subtle to almost non-existent, and her hair was always perfectly set in a subtle curls. Both she and Henry were people with an amazing sense of humour, sometimes dry but always funny, and both loved to travel. While Crystal was more outgoing, Henry was more relaxed when it was just his family and no one else. Although you would never know it. They were opposites yet they were one of the same. Perfect for one another and perfect for thirty-five years of marriage.

The small family party was in swing. Henry entertaining Alex, Eli and Nick. All talking about movies and random stuff, while Kendra, Molly and Hailey took care of the food and keeping Crystal out of the kitchen with help of Hailey’s son and daughter, Sheldon and Megan.

He’s cute.” Hailey said as she chopped some onions.

Who is?” Kendra asked as she peeled potatoes.

Well actually both of them. You guys are bumping uglies aren’t you?” Hailey joked.

Molly turned around and looked at her sister, “um ew.”

Hailey and Kendra laughed and kept working at what they were doing.

Hailey pushed a strand of her dark brown hair behind her ear and kept cutting, “I don’t know. Me thinks you doth protest too much.” Kendra smiled.

She’s making fun of you too.” Molly said to her best friend.

I don’t care. I’m not making a big deal out of it because there’s nothing to make a big deal about it. Plus since I don’t cave into it, she has more fun making fun of you. You’re responses are funner than mine.” Kendra stated proudly.

Mom,” Megan started when she walked into the kitchen. Her blonde hair curly around her cheeks. “Can we go outside or do we still have to keep Nana out of the kitchen?”

Do what you want Meg, your Nana is a big girl she can do what she wants too.” Hailey said as looked out the kitchen window which overlooked the deck located on the side of the house. “Um, Oh crap!”

What?” both Molly and Kendra asked as they went over to the window.

Walking in through the gate was Michelle and Gary Price. The Price’s had met Crystal and Henry through some friends of theirs a few years ago. But this was one of those times where the girls just wanted to keep it family which was basically thrown out when Eli and Nick invited themselves. It’s just that Michelle had an over powering presence, that even her husband blends into the background. He’s so verbally abused, that he jumps whenever anyone says his name. Michelle wasn’t that bright of a woman either, not to mention stubborn to a fault. Kendra didn’t think much of her, but then again, Michelle thought Kendra was a slut and a gold-digger. As it turns out, it’s often Michelle and Gary who are like a 3rd wheel to the already established family.

Guess we need to paste on our happy faces.” Kendra smiled, then drawled, “my dog hates that woman.”

Molly and Hailey started to shake as fits of laughter took over.

Crystal entered the kitchen and gave them a strange look, “what’s going

on?”

Michelle and Gary are here,” Kendra smiled falsely.

Shit.” Crystal muttered, before pasting on her happy face, then headed out to the back yard. The girls began to laugh.

It wasn’t that the Price’s weren’t welcomed at the Westin’s. They were. Often Gary and Henry would go golfing together and the women would go shopping or have tea. It was the fact that the three girls really just wanted it to be family. A fact that Michelle would never understand, as she thought she was family. In fact she believed it so much that she thought Kendra to be the outsider. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. Michelle tolerated Kendra, and vice versa. Michelle disliked Molly’s directness and hated Hailey for being what she thought as rude, only it was just Hailey trying to deflect the tension. Henry wasn’t the biggest fan of Michelle’s, but he enjoyed Gary. Gary was a completely different man when he was away from his wife. Michelle thought the world of Crystal. She was envious that Crystal had the family that Michelle always dreamed of. Crystal was able to have the chats with Michelle who was the same age as her, about things that her daughter’s wouldn’t understand quite yet. The two women were there for each other. It was just today that Crystal wanted to spend time with her girls and her grandchildren without the pair.

Nobody got to really talk throughout the dinner as Michelle took the conversation in the direction she wanted. Alex who had just quit smoking, started up again much to his wife’s chagrin who also had quit. And, well, started again.

So the apartment is bigger than the one Gary and I live in right now.” She talked on. “The entry way is bigger but where Gary’s office will be smaller.”

Molly looked at Eli. Eli smiled and said politely, “What’s the square footage of the other apartment?”

Doesn’t matter it’s bigger, I know it is.” Michelle said as she scooped on a heaping amount of potato salad. “I think the kitchen might have a bit more space as well. The woman who lived there, bless her heart, had a full sized stove in there, unlike my apartment size one.”

Kendra leaned over to Molly and muttered quietly to her, “the woman probably stuck her head in the oven to avoid her.”

HA!” Molly laughed out. “Nothing, sorry.”

Kendra smiled.

What’s the square footage?” Eli asked a second time.

Oh I think it’s fifteen-hundred square feet.” Gary answered, only to receive a look of contempt from his wife.

What’s your place?” Nick asked the tiny man sitting across from him, as he cut into his chicken breasts.

Gary Price was a tiny man. Small in bone structure and in nerves. His light brown hair was thinning on top and wore these awful valor track suits that his wife picked out for him, which matched hers. He was a nice guy but was very much in a submissive position within his marriage to Michelle. Both would go above and beyond their duty to help out the Westin’s but Michelle always expected something in return. The couple was complete opposite. Where Michelle worked out of the apartment, Gary rarely left and worked from home as an accountant. Gary was thrifty, and Michelle would spend whatever she could get her hands on. He was small, she was a lot bigger than him. Not obese, but big. A size 16. Then again a horse fly was bigger than Gary.

Doesn’t matter, the other place is bigger.” Michelle interrupted, rotating in her chair next to Henry to face the younger men at the table.

It does matter actually.” Eli stated. “If your place is the same in square footage, than both places are the same in size. Whether you lose space in your daughter’s bedroom for a larger entry way is a moot point.”

Should we tell him he’s fighting a losing battle?” Molly asked Kendra. Kendra shook her head.

Oh it does.”

Is the place bigger?” Molly interjected.

Yes and No.”

Well it’s either a yes or a no. It’s not a question that can be both a yes and a no.” Molly explained. “So which is it?”

Yes and no.”

Gary was about to open his mouth but closed it when his wife shot him another look from across the table.

Henry dropped his head and looked at his plate, he clutched the steak knife and behind Michelle’s back, he motioned like he was stabbing her. Everyone, including Gary, who not dare to laugh out loud, clenched their lips together not to laugh.

Chapter 5:

Eli stood with Chewbacca’s ass on his foot in the backyard of the Westin’s home. This wasn’t what he was used to. A family that got along and laughed and teased each other with good nature. For some reason, he felt eerily comfortable around them. He hardly knew Molly or Kendra, but he liked them both. There was something refreshing about Molly’s spunky personality. She was a tough woman to get to know and yet, she let him into the most intimate place a person has from another person. Their family.

He watched as Henry strolled toward him, leaving his conversation with his son-in-law Alex and the silly little guy whose wife dominates him. Eli wondered if at home in the bedroom, who spanked who? It wasn’t always the obvious person who did the spanking or the whipping. Henry handed him a beer.

Thank-you sir.” Eli said as he took a long pull on the cold drink.

Not a problem.” Henry did the same. “Probably not what you expected out of an anniversary party, eh?”

Eli looked at the man standing next to him. Henry was dashing. His hair was still full and neatly styled. He was comfortable in his own skin and relaxed. He either seemed oblivious to the fact he was wearing sock and sandals, or just didn’t give a damn. Henry was very soft spoken, had thinks to say, but his voice was smooth and soothing. Low, yet demanding that you listen to what he was talking about, but without actually being demanding. It was hypnotic, like you wanted to hear what he had to say. Henry Westin wasn’t a man who demanded anything, especially respect, it was something you just automatically gave.

Not at all, but then again I’m used to things not being conventional.” Eli answered. Henry nodded. “Is that woman really…”

Oh yeah!” Henry answered before the question could be asked. The two men chuckled. Henry rubbed behind Chewbacca’s ears. “Are you from around this area?”

Without thinking about it, Eli answered honestly, “no actually I’m from Yardly.” Yardly was the next town over, and wasn’t exactly the best place to have been raised. “I was born here, but after my mother died, my dad moved us boys over to the next town.”

Yeah I was from Yardly myself.”

Really?”

Yes I was. Not something I’m proud of,” Henry answered, looked at Eli

and noticed that Eli agreed with him, “as I’m sure you feel the same way. I fought my ass off to get the hell out of there. To get a good job and just get out.”

I do know. I did the same, only I often find myself back there. Usually it’s because of work, but it still makes me shake with contempt.” Eli took another drink.

Henry turned to Eli, facing him dead on, “you’re out, and if you think that you’re out for good, you would be wrong. Because there will always be something that pulls you back to that place. I met Crystal, fell madly in love with her and I couldn’t be happier. Even if I have to go back there for some reason or another. I know that my home is here with her. She saved my life.”

Recognition between the two men flashed and Eli wondered why Mr. Westin had to go back there.

My mother is in a home there. I have to go check on her every once in a while. I wanted to move her here, but she won’t go.” Henry added. “Do you still have family there?”

Yes, my father and one of my brother’s still live there.” Eli answered. The two stood in comfortable silence for a while.

Henry finished his beer and kept rubbing the dogs head. “How did you get interested in being a private investigator?”

Now Eli was uncomfortable. He liked Henry a lot and no longer felt compelled to stretch the truth to him. He came clean instead, “actually sir, I have to apologize. My partner Nick and I are not actually private investigators, we’re cops.” Henry nodded. “We work in property crimes currently and we were working a case when we noticed Molly and Kendra. We needed to see what their connection was to the case we were working and found out that we needed their help. So they are actually working with us.”

I see.”

We couldn’t really say what we were working on because it’s undercover. I know your a man of intelligence and I know you’ll be discreet about what I just shared with you.” Eli explained.

I totally understand.” Henry smiled, “but if anything happens to my girls, I’ll find you.”

Eli drove Molly home, as Kendra drove Nick back to her place. Molly was quiet in the seat next to him. She no longer seemed pissed off at him but her

quietness shocked him. He was never too sure what to do with a woman who; A) was crying, or B) was too quiet.

Are you alright Molly?”

Molly rolled her head around to look at him, and rewarded him with a smile. “Yeah, just tired.” She kept looking at him. “Sorry I was such a bitch earlier, I was in a hurry and I don’t like to deal with work stuff when it’s my day off.”

Not a problem. I’m the same way. I wanted to finish watching the playoffs. I have money on the Penguins to get into the Stanley Cup finals. So I understand.” Eli turned his attention back to the road.

I’m sorry my dog chewed on your car.”

I’m sorry I made fun of your dog, but at least now I know why you called him Chewbacca.” Eli laughed.

Yeah pretty much. Plus when he was a puppy he looked like a mini-wookie.” Molly adjusted her self to be more upright than slouchy. “He’s a good dog, but for some reason, he has to chew things.” Eli smiled as he watched the road.

I told your dad the truth about me and Nick being cops.”

You did, why?”

I’m not really sure, other wise he’s your father and I liked him too much to lie. It wasn’t right you know, basically crashing your parents anniversary party,”

She interrupted him, “get together. It wasn’t a party.”

My bad.” He turned the corner onto her street. “Anyways, I thought I owed him the truth. I like your dad and mom. They’re good people.”

Glad you think so. I think so too.” Molly said as she reached for her purse between her feet on the floor as Eli pulled into her drive way. “Would you mind giving me a hand with the boxes in the back and the dog?”

Well since you asked so nicely this time, sure.” He kidded with her and she laughed.

He followed her up the steps to the front door, leash in one hand and balancing a box in his other. She entered the three story town house and flipped a light on as he followed in. Her living room was off to the left and it was a bright

yellow with bright greens and zebra print pillows on her white sued sofa. Her floors were white-washed hard wood, which he thought were cool. Molly loved colour. Her place was bright, even as night settled in outside.

Just place those boxes on the ottoman, there,” she pointed to a giant, round white ottoman that was in front of her couch instead of a coffee table. A white antique tray with a fat three-wicked candle on it and a vase full of purple tulips sat on top.

He gently placed the box he was holding on top, careful not knock things over.

Don’t worry about knocking shit over, I do it all the time.” She walked in and picked up the vase with the tulip and turned it upside down. “Fake, because I keep knocking it over.”

Eli laughed, “anything else you need? Like do a walk around to make sure there’s no strange men hiding in your bedroom?”

Molly tilted her head slightly to the side, “so you wanna see my bedroom, detective?”

He smiled at her, “no, I’m afraid I’d be blinded by colour.” Eli turned towards the door. “Good night Molly, and thank-you for tolerating my presence for dinner.”

She walked him to the door, “don’t mention it. Good night Eli.”

By the time Eli got to his place, Nick was waiting in the lobby of the old warehouse building. The two of them rode up in the cargo elevator up to Eli’s place in silence. When the door slid open and Nick pushed aside the criss-cross gate that opened the elevator to the floor, so Eli could fiddle with his keys to the big, heavy metal sliding door that lead into his loft.

Nick walked into which Eli knew he referred to as the freezer, since Eli’s place was nothing but metals, black and grays. It was cold compared to his own place which he liked to call sparse-chic. Eli kicked off his shoes in the entry way, as did Nick, and headed further in. “Beer?”

Ah no thanks, I’m good. Water is just fine.” Nick said as he sat down on the black leather sectional couch.

Eli hit the button on his answering machine, the beep echoing through his ceilingless apartment. “Hey bro, listen, I talked to Eddie today and he said no, but I need a loan. I think I can get on in this big shipment that’s coming through,

but I need…” Eli pressed delete.

He handed Nick his glass of water and sat down with a glass of his own on the couch.

You OK?”

Yeah, I’m so sick and tired of Eric always calling when he needs money.” Eli took a sip of his water. “I look at my family and I think, how did I turn out the way I turned out?”

Well both you and Eddie turned out pretty good. Both got out of Yardly and started a life away from there.” Nick swished the water around in the glass.

You spill, I kill,” Eli stated, and Nick put his glass down on the gray coaster sitting on top of the glass coffee table. “Eddie isn’t doing that well. He’s managing but he’s still like my father.”

Eli and Nick sat in the quiet and stillness of the warehouse. Eli mentally reflecting on what it was like growing up without his mother, who died of cancer when he was six. His older brother Eddie, always telling him that they can do anything they want, and his younger brother, Eric, always standing in his way. Screwing it up. It was Elton Savidis who was the biggest fucker of them all. He would tell them he was coming into something good, and then piss it all away on booze and whores. His life before his mother died was perfect. The three boys lived in a house in a cul-de-sac, their father owned two grocery stores here in Glenberry, but when their mother got sick, his father had to sell one in order to pay for the treatments. Then he had to sell the other to pay for more treatments. When Gayle Savidis died, everything the family had, died with her. Now his father was a drunk, a janitor at a school for recently released juveniles. Eddie’s life was so up and down from being a day trader that he was destined to end back up in Yardly. Eric never left. He was always involved in “get rich quick” schemes which never panned out and any money Eric acquired would be gone. Then he’d drink too. Eli saved every penny he ever made. Bough the place he was living in, and slowly built the place without every exceeding his finances. He invested well, although not through his own brother Eddie. He clawed his way out from that life. For a cop, Eli lived damn well. For a Savidis, he lived the high-life.

I don’t know why, but I felt so comfortable with Molly’s family.” Eli broke the silence.

Yeah, me too. They were fun, except for that beastly woman.”

Eli laughed, “square footage doesn’t change if it’s in two separate apartments. Just because something looks bigger doesn’t mean that it is.”

I know!” Nick laughed along with his friend.

I wouldn’t have believed it, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.” Eli rubbed his face with his hands.

‘Yes and no.’” Nick mocked. The two broke out in a fit of laughter. “I wanted to smack her.”

Oh and what’s with the matching track suits?” Eli was laughing so hard the hiccups started.

So that poor guy couldn’t get away.” Nick slapped his leg. “I mean, as a cop I felt that I should have stepped in because there was some serious abuse going on there.”

No-oh shit!” He hiccupped.

The two laughed harder and harder, and Eli just kept hiccupping along. They kept making jokes and fun of people. “Nick, I have to-oo say that I really liked Mr. Wes-s-tin and Alex. They were coo-ool!”

Yeah I had a good conversation with Alex, he was telling me that the last time he saw that woman, she was going on about how it was her husbands fault that she was infertile. That even the doctor told her that she wasn’t able to have a baby, she blamed her husband’s sperm for being lazy and stupid.”

Oh st-op, you’re killing me-ee,” Eli was in hysterics.

Nick picked up the remote control and turned on the remaining minutes of the hockey game. Penguins were winning by one against the Sabers. The two calmed down long enough to enjoy the hockey.

Nick’s cell phone beeped with a text message just as the Sabers tied up the game and he pulled his I-phone out of his back pocket. It read;

Nicky, r u coming over?-B” He texted back, “On my way.” He stood up, “gotta go man. See you Monday?”

Yeah,” Eli said as he squinted at his partner. “The games not over.” Nick looked guilty. “Oh no. Don’t tell me that you’re back with Birdie?”

I am. She gave me head last night and now I’m stuck.” Nick sat back down. “I’m just too tired right now to deal with it. As soon as this case is over, I’m hoping to have pissed her off enough that she’ll leave me. Then I’ll know she’s gone.”

And if not?”

Then I’ll finish it once and for all.” Nick stood back up, “I have to go. She wants me to go over to her place.”

At least she hasn’t moved in to your place yet.” Eli followed his friend from the couch to the door.

Nick fiddled with his keys and headed out.

Nick got into his black SUV and turned the ignition. Something poked him in his pants pocket. As he pulled it out he remembered it was Kendra’s pink cell phone, since she decided to leave her purse in her trunk, she had asked Nick to keep it in his pocket since she didn’t have any. He pulled out his phone and then tossed it on the seat next to him thinking better of texting Birdie to tell her that he needed to make a stop first.

He pulled up to Kendra’s cute little bungalow with the wood board and baton siding, and walked up her flagstone walk way to her front porch. He could see through the bay window in front that she was still up and watching television, and pressed the bell. Nick could hear Hardy barking and snorting on the other side of the thick wooden door.

The door swung open and Kendra stood before him with her hair up in a weird twisted pony tail, knot thing, and wearing a pair of purple fuzzy slippers that looked like a dead Muppets, really short-shorts in purple islet and a purple tube top, with a white robe that went down mid-thigh. She was also sporting a pair of black rimmed glasses and had a spoon of something in one hand.

Nick!” She exclaimed.

Sorry, um,” he stammered. She looked good enough to eat. “Ah, you left your cell in my pants.”

Ah, excuse me?” Kendra creased her eyebrows together.

He shook his head, “your cell phone. Remember you asked me to put it in my pocket earlier.” Nick took a step into the entry way.

Kendra stepped back, “oh right. Thanks.”

Nick held out the phone for her to take, her hand touched his and he felt his stomach get heavy. Her palm was cold, but soft. It looked small in his hand and his skin was a bit darker than hers. He held on a bit longer than was

necessary. He tugged her a bit closer, as their eyes locked on one another. Then his butt vibrated. He dropped her hand and reached for his cell phone. Another text from Birdie.

Anyways, um, have a good night.” Nick turned and walked out of her house. She was tempting him and had no clue that she was doing it. He looked down at the text;

Where r U? I’m wearing nothing.”

All I have to do is pretend it’s not her.” He said as he pulled out Kendra’s drive way.

Chapter 6:

Kendra sat outside of the Marceno house, alone, Monday morning. Nick was suppose to pick her up, only he didn’t show. She called his cell phone numerous amounts of time, leaving only two voice mails, that were not exactly pleasant. She wasn’t comfortable staking out the house on her won, especially in her own car since sausage-fingers himself, Rudolph Marceno, knew her car. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t directly in front of the house, but on a side street with an excellent view of the Mc-mansion.

She knew the plan for the day and dressed to fit in with Marissa’s type of friends. Wearing a short turquoise halter top that exposed her belly and naval ring, with a pair of white cargo-capris pants, paired with a nice pair of three-inch weeved wedge heels. Her toe nails matched her halter, and her white sunglasses sat on the bridge of her nose. Her hair was styled at the base of her skull with a pony tail that swept to the side and over her shoulder. Kendra knew that she looked amazing. She was stylin’ and profilin’.

Now all she had to do was sit patiently and wait for Marissa to leave the house for her hair appointment at the same salon where Kendra happened to be booked for a trim. It was only another five minutes when Marissa’s car pulled out of the garage and backed down the drive way, and Kendra fired up her Civic. Her plan was to beat Marissa to the salon and be there before she walked in, but she knew speeding through down town in mid-morning traffic wasn’t going to be easy. Somehow the traffic Gods were smiling on her because she made it to the salon before Marissa and was even seated just as her subject walked in.

Ken’s phone rang just as Marissa was seated next to her. It was Nick. “Nick honey, where were you this morning? Nobody stands me up.” She said angrily.

Kendra?” He asked in shock.

Yeah, babe, you better be sorry, duh.”

Are you with Mrs. Marceno?

Kendra waited ten seconds to answer, “yes but that’s not excuse baby. When you tell me that you’re coming over for,” she paused, “a lil’ somethin’-somethin’, I expect you to show up.” Her snarky tone wasn’t acting.

I’m really sorry. I wasn’t in the area and somehow my cell phone got turned off.”

She made some huffing sounds, “fine Nick. Just don’t let it happen again.” Kendra snapped her phone shut. “Sorry ’bout that,” she apologized to her hair

dresser then he resumed snipping her ends.

Kendra!” the familiar voice shrieked from the chair next to her.

Her eyes made eye contact, and she pasted on a fake surprised smile on her face, “Marissa, well isn’t this a small world.”

It is. Actually I’m so totally glad I ran into you.” The small brunette beamed.

Really? Why is that?”

Marissa pushed some of her strands back from around her heart shaped face, “absolutely. After meeting you last week, I never thought to get your mobile. I thought about how awesome it would be to do lunch.”

Kendra gave her “new friend” a genuine smile, she was in. “Fabulous!” The two chatted back and forth mostly about Kendra’s idiot boyfriend, Nick, and even a bit about the country club where Marissa frequented. What Marissa didn’t know was that she was being recorded. Kendra had her hand bag wired and had flipped the microphone on the moment Marissa sat down.

You know like, how you said that you just moved here.” Marissa asked but didn’t at the same time. Kendra nodded, and she went on, “well my husband is like an art dealer. He’s so good, sweetie, I’m telling you he could hook your pad up.” Marissa yammered on. “I mean like find you something totally awesome, and I’m sure that I could get him to drop the price down for you. I’m sure he wouldn’t care. I can make him do anything I want with just a little slap and tickle.”

Despite the image floating in her head of the fat Cuban dude, being bent over Marissa’s knee and being slapped on his wobbly bottom, Kendra kept the ball rolling, she was getting somewhere. “What type of art?”

Like paintings and junk. You know the junk people like display on pedestals.”

Wow sounds pretty cool. Like are they originals?” Kendra was hoping Marissa would give her something that would close Nick’s case. She was feeling slightly embarrassed by her reaction to him Saturday night.

How the hell should I know.” She answered with a look of disgust on her face. “I could ask Rudy.”

Oh no, I don’t really like care. I just want something that looks cool and hip.” With Kendra’s answer, Marissa smiled.

Nick had Eli drop him off at the salon in order to catchup with Kendra. He really wished Eli hadn’t heard his conversation with Kendra on the phone because he did nothing but tease Nick the entire time. Eli even went as far as to pick up some flowers for Nick to give to the angry woman.

He pulled the door open to the salon and was assaulted by the stench of hair chemicals of varying types. Nick spotted Kendra at the counter with Marissa Marceno, whose hair was wrapped in some gauze type stuff. Show time.

Kenny baby,” he smiled as he approached the two women.

The look on her face would have made him laugh, but then he realized that the look was that of murder. “Nick!” She turned to her new friend and introduced them. “Marissa, this is Nick. Nick this is a new friend of mine, Marissa.”

The two shook hands, then Nick turned to Kendra. “I’m sorry for missing our morning together,” and handed her Eli’s flowers.

Aw, aren’t you two just the cutest?!” Marissa gushed. Just then her stylist called her over. “Well I’ll call you later this week for tennis and lunch. Toodles.”

Kendra waved, paid her bill, and Nick started to laugh. She elbowed him before the two of them headed out to her car. They stopped in front of the driver’s side door.

Keys.”

Hell-a no.” Kendra put her hand clutching the keys behind her back. “It’s my car.”

Nick looked toward the salon then back at her. “Suppose your tennis partner sees us fighting?”

Shit! How the hell am I going to pull this off?” She relaxed a little. “I don’t know how to play tennis.”

You don’t play?” She shook her head. “Then why did you agree to play tennis with her?”

Kendra dropped her arms to her sides, “I was under the blow dryer and I thought she said table tennis, and I said ‘love it’.”

Nick would have laughed but it was the perfect time to take her keys. He did so, then steered her over to the passenger side door while she sulked. “Table tennis?”

She sat down then looked up at him through her brown eyes, and said with her lips all pouting, “ping-pong.”

Nick walked to the other side after closing the door. He would have laughed again but this time it was just pathetically sad. As he sat down in the drivers side, his knees honked the horn. He knew she was short but she had the seat pulled up so far, a midget could have driven her car.

He reached down between his now wide-spread legs, and found the handle to push the seat back. Nick wasn’t overly tall himself, but still.

Serves your right for stealing my keys.”

He looked over at her, still pouting. “Didn’t think you noticed.”

I did, but I wasn’t going to give you the satisfaction. I knew your knees would hit something.

Whatever short-ass.” Nick put the key in and started the car up.

They were headed to the police station to meet up with Eli and Molly. Kendra was quiet with the exception of a few huffing noises she was making. Like owner, like dog.

Listen Kendra, I can teach you how to play tennis.” He suggested.

Why couldn’t it be ping-pong?” She asked loudly as she leaned forward and banged her forehead on the passenger side airbag inside the dash.

Probably because rich people don’t usually play ping-pong at the country club.” He informed her.

Kendra turned in her seat to face him, then slapped his arm.

Ow!”

Baby.”

The four of them sat in a private room, with Nick and Kendra not talking to one another. Actually it was Kendra not talking to Nick. Molly’s seen that look before on Kendra’s face, but couldn’t figure out what Nick could have said or

done to put that look there. Nick was clearly less annoying than Eli.

She watched Kendra pull the tape recorder out of her purse and pass over Nick in order to hand it to Eli, who pressed play. The foursome listened to Kendra’s side of the phone conversation with Nick, and then suddenly the high pitched shriek from Mrs. Marceno, “Kendra!”

They continued to listen on.

Mrs. Marceno: “So why don’t you tell me about your boyfriend?”

Molly listened and thought, this should be good.

Kendra: “Nick? You don’t want to hear about him. He’s boring.”

Molly looked at Nick who raised a brow as he eyed Kendra. She noticed Eli was enjoying this as well.

Mrs. Marceno: “Oh but I do, so please go on…”

Kendra: “He’s annoying. Nick thinks he’s all that, but he’s really nothing special.”

Mrs. Marceno: “But there must be something about him. You are such a great person, so he has to have something redeemable.”

Kendra’s head dropped and Molly suppressed her eagerness to hear what came next.

Kendra: “He’s hung like you wouldn’t believe.”

Nick sat back and locked his hands behind his head, “well that explains the once over Mrs. Marceno gave me when I walked in.”

Shut up you toad.” Kendra snarled.

You’re the one who said it, not me.” He smiled. The tape went on.

Mrs. Marceno: “Really? I like men with big ones. Rudy is totally like that. After all he’s old enough to be my father so he’d have to be.”

Molly could have sworn that she heard Kendra shudder in disgust on the tape, but wasn’t that sure.

Mrs. Marceno: “So tell me more.”

Kendra: “He’s a god in bed.”

Kendra reached over and grabbed the recorder. “I’ll just fast forward it to the important stuff.”

Nick ripped the thing from her hands, “no, no, we have to hear everything.” He hit play.

Kendra: “It’s like he does this thing with tongue that would make you shudder in delight.”

Mrs. Marceno: “Wow! He does that?”

Kendra: “Oh yeah!”

Giggles followed her excited answer. Molly looked at Nick who just smirked his pleasure at Kendra, then looked at her best friend. She should save her ass, but she kind of wanted to hear more herself. Kendra knew better. She knew they were recording the conversation. Kendra’s face was so red that Molly wasn’t sure if her friends head would explode.

Mrs. Marceno: “Feel like sharing?”

Kendra: laughs; “Hell-a no!”

The two talk more about their “sex lives” and then Kendra told Mrs. Marceno about just recently moving here with her boyfriend. Marissa talked more about stuff, asked her about the country club, and then about the art.

Mrs. Marceno: “You know like, how you said that you just moved here, well my husband is like an art dealer. He’s so good, sweetie, I’m telling you he could hook your pad up. I mean like find you something totally awesome, and I’m sure that I could get him to drop the price down for you. I’m sure he wouldn’t care. I can make him do anything I want with just a little slap and tickle.”

Kendra: “What type of art?”

Mrs. Marceno: “Like paintings and junk. You know the junk people like display on pedestals.”

Kendra: “Wow sounds pretty cool. Like are they originals?”

Mrs. Marceno: “How the hell should I know.” Pause “I could ask Rudy.”

Kendra: “Oh no, I don’t really like care. I just want something that looks cool and hip.”

Nick switched off the tape. He was still smirking but he didn’t say anything more about it. Molly thought, good boy! Don’t poke the bear!

Eli broke the awkward silence, “nice work getting her to talk about the art.”

Kendra nodded. Molly felt bad for her, they should have let her skip the stuff about Nick and the tongue thing.

It’s too bad that she didn’t know about whether or not the art is original or not but you lead her in perfectly. Good job Kendra.” Nick said seriously.

The meeting ended and the guys left the room to get them all coffee. Molly sat down next to her friend. “You alright?”

Yes, but he is such a dick.”

Apparently a huge one,” Molly smiled. Kendra smiled in turn. “You knew that we would all hear that, why did you say all that?”

Trying to get her to open up to me. I had to think of something, and well that was it. I had nothing else.” Kendra drummed her nails on the table top.

Molly hated that sounds but she let it go. This time. “I know you didn’t think that Nick would make a big to-do about it either, because you were just doing your job.”

He’s an ass.”

Yes he is.!” Molly agreed.

The guys opened the door and Nick placed a green tea down in front of Kendra. She nodded her thanks. Molly knew that Ken would be fine, she was already pissed at Nick for something and he knew it. Which was why he picked on her. The more she looked at the two, the more she thought she saw something between them.

Eli handed Molly her coffee and then started the rest of the meeting. “Why don’t you go over the tape Kendra and type out the important parts of the conversation, and then I’ll copy the important parts on the tape on a source where we can filter out the background noise.”

Sure no problem,” she agreed.

Eli just brought himself up a notch in Molly’s book. “I have a question.”

What is it?” Eli asked.

Molly leaned forward, cupping her paper cup full of coffee with both hands. “How are you and I going to get into the Marceno’s?”

Good question. When Serena Williams here goes for tennis and lunch, she’s going to ask if she can bring her friend with her.” Eli explained.

I don’t have to play tennis, do I?” Molly questioned, only slightly panicked.

No, leave that to Kendra.”

Great,” muttered Kendra.

Eli looked up at her and smiled, “hate to do this to you, but you’re going to have to have a few lessons from Nick.” Kendra nodded in agreement.

Can I watch?” Molly asked.

Chapter 7:

Molly parked her Toyota Matrix in the guest parking spot at Nick’s condominium. The guard at the gate told them that Mr. Dupree was at the tennis courts around back, and to meet him there. She looked over at Kendra who was sporting a really cute white tennis skirt and a light pink tennis shirt. A purple tennis racket sat on her lap in it’s case.

Why am I wearing this?”

Because you’re playing tennis. Besides you look adorable.” Molly smiled.

This skirt is ridiculously short.” Kendra said as she looked down at her skirt. Her pig tails falling in front of her face. “I look retarded.”

Molly opened her door, ignoring her friends comment. It wasn’t hard to get Kendra to the mall, but it took forever for Molly to convince Ken that she needed a tennis outfit if she’s going to play at the country club. Kendra didn’t argue but she did when Molly suggest she wear it to learn in, so that she knew how to move in it.

Together they walked towards the path that had a sign posted which read, “Tennis Courts” with an arrow pointing down a brick path with privacy hedges. The pop-pop of the green tennis ball sounded back and forth as they approached the court. Eli and Nick were just shooting the ball back and forth. Shirtless.

The girls jaws dropped and together they froze by the fence. Eli’s strong chest glistened with beads of sweat as he ran back and forth between the lines of the court. His muscular arms, reaching back, and sailing forward as his racket swats the ball. Molly thought she was going to faint, he looked so good. She managed to peel her eyes away from Eli to check out Nick. He was equally looking hot. His skin tone just slightly darker than Eli’s, glistened with his own sweat, as his lean, yet chiseled back muscled moved and shifted as he smacked the ball. She felt an elbow nudge her arm.

Thank-you,” she heard Kendra say.

No, thank-you!” Molly returned. “If you hadn’t been a moron and agreed to play tennis with whats-her-name, we would never have been brought to the promise land.”

I think I have a new respect for tennis. Note to self. Must. Watch. More. Tennis.”

Ah-huh!” Molly agreed.

The pop-pop sound stopped and the two girls snapped out of their trance. Both Eli and Nick were watching them.

Eli wasn’t sure what was with the strange look on the girls’ faces but it sure was cute. Molly’s striped golf shirt clinging to her nice breasts, she was either cold or turned on. He didn’t really care. And Kendra’s little skirt, showcased a pair of strong calves, and cute little knees. Eli walked over to the net to meet Nick.

What are they doing?” Nick asked him. Eli shook his head. “Suppose they’re checking us out?”

Most likely.” Eli answered. “Lets go, get that girl playing tennis.”

How are we going to do this?” Nick asked.

Eli thought about it for a few seconds, “she plays ping-pong right?” Nick nodded. “She’ll know to aim for the ball so we’ll see what she’s got and then go from there.”

He watched Nick walked toward the girls standing behind the fence. He gripped the fence in front of them and looked them over. As he talked to Kendra, Eli kept staring at Molly. Her lips were pink and her cheeks had a pinkie hue to them, and the sun danced off her caramel blonde hair, showing off touches of coppers and reds.

I’m ready,” Kendra said breaking Eli’s spell.

Great, get your racket and come on around.” Nick cocked his head, motioning Kendra around. “What are you wearing under there?”

Shut up!”

Eli laughed as he rounded the fence to stand next Molly and her nipples.

What are you staring at?” Molly asked him.

I think it’s your PNS,” Kendra answered for him.

Molly looked down, the crossed her arms over her breasts. “Pig.”

Eli looked her in the eyes, “oink!”

Nick couldn’t get help wonder what Kendra had on under that short tennis

skirt. She looked good and after hearing what she thought about his tongue earlier in the day, he couldn’t help wonder if that’s what got her turned on.

He walked her to her side of the court, a way to keep her eyes out of the sun, so she could see the ball coming at her. Nick showed her the stance to take, “stand like this, with your knees slightly bent and your racket poised.” He fixed her position. “When I serve the ball to you, swing your racket.”

She nodded, “got it.”

Nick walked to the other side of the net and took the spot opposite of Kendra. He tossed the ball in the air and swatted his racket and the ball sailed over the net.

Kendra swung her racket and turned herself around, the ball smacking the chain link fence behind her.

What was that suppose to be?” Nick called to her.

A return.” She answered.

Really? I thought that was your imitation of a revolving door.” Nick said as he picked up another ball. “Try it again. Keep your eye on the ball, alright?”

OK, I’m ready.”

He served the ball again, and this time she ducked when the ball came at her. “What now?”

I’m not very good with balls flying at my head.” Kendra answered.

Nick was sure that this was going to be the death of him. They repeated the same thing four more times before Nick was ready to swat her. He looked to Eli for help and thankfully he responded.

Eli walked to the opposite end of the court, where Nick was, and Nick grabbed Kendra’s arm. He was hoping it wouldn’t come down to this but he had no choice, he had to show her personally.

Stand here like I showed you.” Nick waited for her to get into her stance, then went behind her and put his arms around. Clutching her hands which were wrapped around the racket. “Move back and forth, like this.” Nick moved her body in a slow motion to simulate swinging the racket. “Keep your eyes on the ball, when the ball comes towards you, bring your arm back like this and with all your force, swing forward.” He showed her the motion, and she nodded.

Eli lobbed the ball in the air and sailed it over the net. Nick brought back her arm and flung it forward, wacking the ball back to his partner. “Like that?”

Yes, exactly like that.” Nick said. “Try it on your own.” He moved away and around the net to sit with Molly. He looked at her and shook her head.

Eli served the ball and Kendra hit it. Nick stood up and yelled, “chase the ball with your racket.”

Kendra ran to the left and then back, missing the ball completely. Nick’s head fell to his hands. “So close,” he said to Molly.

I don’t get it, she usually picks things up really fast.” Molly told him.

Again, Eli served the ball to her, and she hit it. This time she successfully returned it, but when the ball came back it nailed her in the boob. Eli doubled over in laughter before telling her to keep her racket up.

I bet you’d be better at this than Kenny.” Nick stated.

Oh no I wouldn’t. I try very hard to never do anything that requires me to exert myself.” She shifted on the bench. “I once played soccer in school. I think that was the last time I did anything that had running involved, and I did as little as possible while playing.”

How’d you manage that?”

Played defense and just stood in front of the net. Occasionally I’d help stop a ball, but really I just didn’t care.” She answered honestly. Nick laughed.

He returned his attention to Eli being unbelievably patient with Kendra’s inability to catch on. Eli served, Kendra returned it. Good she got that part down. Eli returned it back and Kendra walked quickly to where the ball was going. Standing up, Nick screamed from the bench, “RUN! DON’T WALK! RUN! RUN! RUN!” Kendra awkwardly ran after the ball. He looked at Molly and together they chuckled. “Tell me something, was Kendra on that same soccer team?”

Yep!”

What position did she play?”

Defense.” Molly answered before laughing.

Not surprised.”

An hour and a half later, Kendra finally got the hang of it. After that, just

like Molly told him, Kendra caught on pretty fast. She grunted and sweat her way through two more hours. Pieces of her hair flying out of her pony tails, and her skirt floating up with the swish of her racket. Nick played her once she got the concept of it. He was sort of proud of her, not to mention she beat him because he was too distracted by her skirt.

They met at the centre of the net and he gave her a high-five, and a hug. Her bare hand slid down the slippery slope of his back, and he nearly shivered at the feel of it. “Very proud of you. You’ll be able to handle yourself with the socialite without looking like a hot chick having an epileptic seizure.”

Gee Nick, that’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me.” She laughed as she headed towards the fence.

Nick watched as she gave Eli a big hug and thanked him for teaching her how to play tennis. He smiled over her head at him.

He invited everyone up to his place for pizza and beer, and when they excepted he was happy that the had the maid in to clean. Nick just prayed that Birdie didn’t show up. She likely wouldn’t be too impressed with two beautiful women in his apartment. Especially Kendra. Birdie knew that Nick loved brunettes, and always hinted at dying her hair to suit his desired type. The moment she’d get a look Kendra, she would feel threatened.

The girls stood behind the guys in the elevator going up to the fifth floor. Kendra looked over at Molly, licked her lips and pointed to Nick. Molly smiled in return, then pretended to squeeze Eli’s butt with her hands. They laughed, silently at each other.

We can see you.” Nick said.

Simultaneously Molly and Kendra looked up and damn, if there wasn’t a mirrored ceiling in the elevator.

Yeah we know. We were just fooling around.” Kendra explained. “You know, kind of like that wire tap earlier today.”

Sure,” Nick drawled out.

He led them down a hallway with fancy carpeting and really powerful wallpaper. The ugliest wall sconces illuminated the otherwise dark area. His condo was down at the end of the hallway by the stairway. Kendra’s eyes roamed over the area as she walked. They stopped outside his door and waited as he unlocked it. The door from across the hall, had this God awful wreath on it, with a Styrofoam bird roosting on it.

Kendra was glad that Nick ordered the pizza from his cell from the tennis court because she was starving. She hadn’t ate anything all day. Just had the tea in the room at the police station. He motioned for the three of them to go inside and she sensed that he was a touch nervous.

As soon as you walk in on the right hand side his galley style kitchen with light cabinets and slate gray walls, and off to the left the door to his washroom. His condo was pretty much open concept but it was small. His dining room table sat in front of the counter which over looks the entire room. His dining room and living room were the same room as his kitchen, only difference was the flooring. Everywhere had a light coloured wood laminate, and the kitchen and bathroom had slate coloured ceramic tiles.

The washroom’s right through here. I don’t normally allow anyone to use it because of the germs and stuff, but today it’s fine. Eli can go down to the public one though. I don’t need him peeing all over the place.” Nick explained. “Make yourselves comfortable.”

Gee I’ll see if I can get comfortable in your little home,” Eli said sarcastically.

Nick chose to ignore him, “can I get anyone anything to drink? Molly?”

What do you have?” she asked.

He swung open his stainless steel fridge, “I have, iced tea, Coke Zero, water, beer and two little cans of Diet Coke.”

Kendra will take a little can of Diet Coke, I’ll have some iced tea, please.” Molly answered.

Nick brought their drinks to the girls and a beer to his partner.

Kendra watched Nick pull out one of the dining room chairs and sit at a distance. She took a seat closet to him at the end of his black leather sofa. She couldn’t figure out why he had two of them, but she figured it wasn’t her business. He had every single gaming council hooked up to his television imaginable. X-box 360, Wii, Play Station 3, Nintendo Game Cube. Everything. Next to his television was shelves full of games and movies on Blu-Ray. Just looking at his living room, Kendra knew even more about Nick than before.

Eli as always broke the silence, “Kendra, I think you’ll be fine when Marissa calls you for lunch. Just tell her that you’re a little rusty because you haven’t played in a while.”

Do you think she’ll buy that excuse?” She asked him.

Oh yeah I don’t see why not. Doesn’t matter anyways, it’s the best we’ve got.” Eli answered.

Nick nodded, “besides, we have two weeks to get invited to their big party.

Eli shifted in on his position on the same couch as Kendra to face Molly, “yeah so be likeable when you meet Marissa.”

Be nice,” Kendra warned. “She’ll gut you like a fish, when you’re least expecting it.”

Everyone laughed. They worked through their plan together. When Marissa called Kendra to set up lunch and tennis at the club, Kendra would ask if she could bring her friend along with her. Molly would charm Mrs. Marceno the way Kendra did. Hopefully it will land both of them an invite to the Marceno’s “The sooner we do this, the sooner we all can return to our regularly scheduled lives.” Nick added.

Chapter 8:

Two days passed with both sides of the teams checking in with each other to report any progress or set backs. Molly was getting a bit antsy. The longer Marissa goes without calling Kendra the lesser the chance of being invited to that party. Molly was good at waiting, but it was Kendra who sucked at it. She needed to find a way to keep Kendra occupied and her mind off of waiting. Right now she was Nick’s problem. He invited Kendra over for more tennis. Molly just sat in her little oasis, doing the best thing to keep herself occupied. Watching Star Wars episode 3, and Aniken Skywalker, walking around in his underwear.

Her favourite place in her entire house was the little sitting room just off of her bedroom. When she and her ex-boyfriend just broke-up it was Kendra who had her father and grandfather come in to help her with transforming this little room into space that Molly would actually use. Before it sat empty. Just a place for her movies to sit. Thanks to the Morgan’s, it was now her favourite hidden retreat on the planet. It was dark, with only one window, now double pained glass and had a thick window covering over it, so that no light could get in. The walls were soundproofed, and surround sound speakers hung all over the space. A counter with a small fridge built in sat along the back wall near the door. Four black leather recliners sat in theater style, and a huge Plasma television took up the one wall with her Blu-Ray hooked up too it. Vintage Star Wars posters lined the sound proofed walls. Black carpeting muffled the sounds on the floor. It was her private theater. Featuring whatever the hell she wanted. Kendra’s father hooked up a red light that would flash if the door bell rang since there was no way to hear anything going on outside of the room. She kept watching her movie when the red light flashed. Instead of pausing it, she let it keep playing. The loud speakers vibrating the entire room. She opened the door and left it open as she walked down the hall, and down the stairs to the main level.

Molly opened the door to find Eli standing on the other side, “hey, what’s up?”

Eli smiled, “not much, bored. Thought maybe you’d want to discuss the case.”

No, not really. I’m enjoying my day off.” She answered honestly. A booming sound came from upstairs.

What was that?” He asked as he looked over her shoulder.

I’m watching a movie upstairs.”

Bullshit.”

Molly opened the door and motioned for him to enter. Without a word, she did something that surprised her, she allowed him to follow her upstairs. Molly’s one rule was that she had to actually like someone in order for them to be invited into her happy place.

Where are we going?” Eli asked unsurely.

It was the only time she had ever heard him sound so afraid. “My bedroom. You want to see where the sound is coming from, don’t you?”

I believe you.” He stammered.

Molly stopped, and Eli bumped into her back. She looked at him with raised eyebrows, then got behind him and pushed him through the door way to her bedroom. The sound of the movie was almost deafening.

Kinky, keep pushing Westin.” He joked. She kept pushing him until he stood in the door way of her happy place. His jaw dropped, and he wandered inside.

She stepped around him to turn the volume down.

Bitchin’!” He gasped. “I think you just moved up a level on my hotness scale. This room is oozing with awesomeness.”

What?” She laughed.

Sorry, I just turned into a teen aged boy.” He sat down in one of the chairs. “This is freaking cool.”

Molly smiled smugly, “yeah I know. Drink?”

Sure,” he smiled. The size of his eyes and his smile, made him look like a teen age boy. Eli craned his head to take in the entire room. It truly was an awesome room. She was glad he liked it.

Molly handed him a Coke, and sat in the recliner next to him, “believe me now?”

Ah-huh!” Eli looked at her, “this was the best idea for a useless space, ever.”

I can’t take credit for it. Kendra can. It was her idea, and her father and grandfather’s design. I think my dad helped with wiring the sound system, but basically this was her idea.”

Think she’ll do me?”

Excuse me?” Molly asked, suddenly feeling a bit of jealousy.

I meant my place, think she’d hook me up?” Eli popped the tab on his can of pop.

Probably not. The soundproofing stuff was left over from a job that her father and grandfather worked, and they had wood left over to build the platform for row two back there,” she pointed to the raised up lazy boys behind them. “And the counter came from a left over piece from her brother’s house.”

I’m still amazed. Nick would get a hard-on for this place too.” Eli spoke without thinking, he then looked at Molly, “sorry. He’d go nuts too.”

Molly wanted to say something snappy like you’ve got a boner right now, eh? But she couldn’t find her inner sex goddess. Unlike Kendra, Molly thinks about the repercussions of her words. Not just what to say now. So she just smiled at him. “What did you want to go over the case about?”

Shh, this is a good part.” He sat back and kicked his feet up. “Could you turn it up too, please?”

She leaned back and turned the volume back up. Where she was sitting she could smell the soap on his skin. Molly tried to focus on the hottie on the screen in front of her but it was the hottie sitting next to her that was making her stomach do flip-flops. The only thing was, Eli was aggravating, and looked like he never shaved. It bothered her that his face looked like it was never shaved yet there wasn’t enough facial hair to make a full beard. Just full stubble. And his hair. That yellowy blonde hair that looked like he never combed it, just slept on

both sides to give it a balanced look, except one side was always flatter and sticking up more than the other. He wasn’t nearly as tall as she usually liked. Sure he was maybe just over six-feet but her ex-boyfriend, Michael was like 6’6”. Eli was all wrong for her. Molly looked over at him. He was smiling. She didn’t think that she’s ever seen him smile like that before. Granted she’s only known him a week, but still. She didn’t think he had any facial muscles that allowed for smiling.

Eli grabbed her hand and squeezed, “this is one of the most under-rated fight scenes ever.” He said excitedly as the scene where evil Aniken Skywalker fought Obi-Wan Kenobi in the lava pits. Eli didn’t let go.

I know what you mean.” She stammered out. Her pulse raced under his touch. Molly couldn’t believe she was bonding with a moody cop with bullet wound in his hot, sexy ass. She blamed Kendra for this.

Eli couldn’t believe it. Molly was super awesome. She had killer tastes in movies, that matched her smoking hot body. He liked her and all, because she was spunky but he didn’t think he liked her this much. His hand was still clutching her smaller one. Eli liked the way it felt, but he knew he shouldn’t be holding it. She was his Confidential Informant, on a case where his career hung in the balance. But he did. His palm was starting to get sweaty, and it had nothing to do with heat but the fact that he was touching the woman who proved to be a thorn in his side. He focused on the lava scene where Hayden Christensen turned the Aniken Skywalker character into Darth Vader. All that evilness, you would think make Eli feel nothing, but he was so turned on that he couldn’t focus on his favourite part of the movie.

He looked over at Molly sitting next to him. She was so still, he would have thought she died if it weren’t for the quick, pounding pulse in her wrist. She was watching the scene, very much engrossed in it, and he wondered if she was doing that because she felt what he felt. Eli turned his focus back to the movie. He dropped her hand, and missed her closeness already.

Nick swatted the ball back to Kendra, and watched her breasts bounce against her body as she ran for the ball. Her return was a perfect back hand. He would have been proud if her boobs weren’t so hypnotic.

After the night he had with Birdie, he needed to get out and do something active. Something that made his mind not think about the mess he re-created with his psycho ex. When he called Eli, Eli was busy installing a new bathroom faucet and had suggested he call Kendra to get more tennis training in. It was a good idea. Tennis with ditsy brunette was just what he needed. And it was working. Except for the boob thing.

He ran after the ball, and shot it full force across the net. His aggression against Birdie kicking in. That woman drove him crazy. Last night she showed up and demanded that he take her to the club two blocks away. It was a Tuesday night, and he battled with her about how dumb it was to go to a place

that probably closed before midnight because it being a week day. She argued that she knows for a fact that the place stayed open until two. Damn if she hadn’t been right. By the time they left for the club it was ten, and they returned just around two-thirty. Birdie was drunk and horny. Two things that didn’t usually go over well with her. She tended to get sick right after being screwed. She liked it hard when she was drunk too. That just took way too much out of Nick. Especially during a work week. Then they had gotten into a fight when Nick suggested that the overnights during the week weren’t such a great idea. He was in the middle of a big case. She locked herself in the bathroom crying and throwing up all night long.

Nick continued to hit the tennis ball hard. He hit it too hard and it nailed Kendra right in the head, knocking her on her ass. He dropped his racket and ran to her, kneeling beside her. “Kendra, I’m so sorry, are you OK?” She moaned, “c’mon, speak to me. Tell me your name?”

You know what my name is you dumb ass.” Kendra sat up. “Ow.”

He helped her to the seated position and put his knee behind her to help keep her propped up. “I guess I returned that ball too hard. Damn it, I’m sorry.”

Stop apologizing, it’s not the first time I’ve taken a shot to the head.”

Nick pushed her hair back off her forehead, and she looked up at him. Shit, he was screwed. They sat like that for a while, until a sound of someone clearing their throat interrupted. Nick looked up to see Birdie standing there at the fence.

What the fuck, Nick!” She yelled.

He stood up so fast that Kendra fell backwards, but caught herself with her elbows. “Birdie, I was playing tennis.”

She folded her arms over her small breasts. He never liked small breasts on a chick. “Looks to me like your feeling up Sandra Bullock over there.”

Kendra’s jaw dropped, then closed and she looked pleased to be called the actresses name. He knew she would have a problem with Kendra. “Oh it’s not what it looks like, I hit her really hard i the head with my balls…err…ball.”

Nice save,” Kendra said with her mouth closed as she stood up.

Birdie, this is Kendra. She’s one of the other undercover officers assigned to the case I’m on.”

Hi,” Kendra muttered.

Birdie didn’t look at Kendra, instead she just spat out, “then why are you playing tennis with her?”

It’s for the undercover part.” Kendra explained. Birdie raised her hand to Kendra’s direction and basically shushed her. Nick knew that was a mistake. “Excuse me?”

Nick make her be quiet.” Birdie demanded.

Nick, please allow me to kick her ass?”

OK ladies, just stop,” he turned to Birdie, “I’m working. This is part of the case.” He then turned to Kendra, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He noted that she didn’t look happy to be dismissed like that.

Kendra gave up, and started for the opening to the fence, but Birdie stepped in front of her, “oh no you don’t. You’re not leaving.”

Chicken is it?” Kendra said, intentionally insulting his girlfriend. Oh how Nick knew this was going to get ugly. “I am leaving. Nick’s my partner on a case, nothing more. You two can work this out, I’m going to go home, have a shower and get back to work.”

Birdie poked her finger into Kendra’s chest, “No you’re not.”

Kendra grabbed Birdie’s finger and held on tightly. She said nothing, and neither did his girlfriend. Slowly, Birdie’s face got whiter and whiter. Nick then realized that Kendra was slowly squeezing and twisting Birdie’s index finger.

OK girls, break it up.” He separated the two. “Kendra, talk to you later. Birdie, go home too. In fact why don’t I escort you two to your cars.” Birdie started to protest, “don’t bother, I’m not in the mood for you right now.”

He said he would escort them to their cars and he did. Only when he held the door open for Kendra, he whispered to her to come back after Birdie leaves. Then he got Birdie into her car. He couldn’t believe this was happening to him. All he knew was that he couldn’t deal with his girlfriend right now, and Kendra was no better but at least he rather deal with her now.

Kendra couldn’t figure out why Nick wanted her to leave then come back. He even slipped her his fob to get into the security gates. That woman he called Birdie, was a piece of work and she then wondered if she was in trouble for practically breaking her finger. Nick looked shocked when he discovered bird-brain there, but she wasn’t sure if it was because their faces were mere inches from each other’s or because he truly didn’t expect to see her. Or both. She drove to the corner and parked on a side street until she saw the Hyundai leave the condominium. As Birdie drove away at lightening speed, Kendra drove back.

Nick was waiting for her in the parking lot. He looked pissed, and it made her stomach turn. She wasn’t very good at getting yelled at. She parked her Civic and he opened her door for her. “Sorry about the finger thing.”

Don’t worry about it. I’m sorry that she pushed you enough to have to do it.” He said as he took his fob back from her. “She can be very infuriating at times and last night we had a fight and I just wanted to get my mind off of it today.”

Is that why you clocked me with a tennis ball?” Kendra asked, a slow smile curving her lips. He nodded. “Apology accepted.”

I haven’t apologized yet.”

Yeah but you were going to.” Nick smiled at her this time. His one hand on the open car door. His body blocking hers. “Why did you want me to come back?”

I just wanted to make sure your head was alright. I guess I really didn’t need you to come back.” Nick let go and dropped his arm to his side.

The moment was a bit awkward, but she let that slide. “I was thinking about the case earlier today. Before you called me for tennis.”

Yeah, and?”

I think I’ll better luck introducing Molly as my sister. I think that would go over better with Marissa. I can say that Molly was staying with me.”

Us.”

Pardon?”

With us, remember you told Marissa that we lived together.” Nick reminded.

Right. I guess then I should say that Molly’s boyfriend or husband or something was too. That way it makes sense that she would bring him to the party.” Kendra suggested.

Husband works.” He smirked. And she liked the way he thought. “Eli and Molly need to step up a bit. We’re doing all the work, doncha think?”

Absolutely.” She laughed. “So tomorrow, when you pick me up, you’ll actually show up?”

Yes, I wouldn’t miss sitting in a hot car all day for anything.”

Kendra was looking into his dark eyes. There was something about Nick’s dark features that made her knees shake. He made her nervous for some reason. He always seemed to be sizing her up, whether it was to get a read on her or just because he was bored, but either way it made her uneasy. She hated it when someone looked her in the eyes. Kendra always felt the most vulnerable when people did that. Especially men. Nick was doing just that right now.

OK then, see you tomorrow.” Kendra gently shoved him out her way and closed her door and took off. When she was part way home, she banged her hands on the steering wheel, “chicken shit.”

Her phone chirped “Hello-Goodbye” by the Beatles on the seat next to her, and she reached for her Blue Tooth and stuck it in her ear. “Hello?”

Kendra!”

Marissa, hey how are you sweetie?”

I’m fantastic. Listen I got us a court time Friday, are you free?”

She smiled as she came to a stop at an intersection. “I am actually. But listen, is it alright if my sister comes with? She’s visiting from out of town with her husband.”

Oh my God, you have a sister?” Marissa gushed. Kendra expressed that she did, and Marissa told her to bring her along. The phone call was quick, and she was smiling right until she pulled in her drive way. Now she had to call Nick.

She walked up into her house, greeted by a snorting Hardy. She didn’t have to call Nick, she could call Eli instead. Kendra walked into the kitchen and grabbed the portable phone and dialed Eli’s cell. He picked it up on the third ring.

Detective Savidis!”

Eli, it’s Kendra.”

Oh hey, what’s up?”

We’re in! Friday at ten I’m meeting Marissa for tennis then lunch.”

Excellent. Did you get an invite for Molly?” Eli asked. Kendra told him of her entire conversation with Marissa and told him about the plan that she and Nick laid out making both Eli and Molly married. “WHAT?”

It was Nick’s idea.” Kendra told him. “I think it works better in order for both of you to get invited to the party.”

Eli was quiet and then she heard him release a breath over the phone, “actually you’re right. It probably is. Did you call Nick?”

Um,” she hesitated. “No, I thought you could. I’m busy tonight, and I just left there.” Kendra was too good at lying sometimes, it amazed her. She walked around her house still talking to Eli, and then walked into her office at the end of the hallway, and screamed.

Kendra?”

Oh my God, it’s alright, Eli. Molly just scared the shit out of me is all.” She explained, then said good-bye and hung up.

Chapter 9:

Kendra looked surprised to see her. Molly guessed that her friend was to preoccupied to notice her car in the driveway.

Something wrong?” Molly asked, leaning back on Kendra’s desk chair parked at her friends roll-top desk.

You mean besides the fact you just scared the crap out of me,” she gasped, “no, nothing.”

Yeah that too. You look flushed, are you going to be sick?” She got out of the chair and rushed to her friend with concern etched on her face. That’s when she noticed the red welt on Kendra’s forehead. “Oh my God, were you in an accident? What happened to your forehead? No you won’t need botox. I’m just going to get you some ice and maybe some water.” Molly headed to the door.

Molls!” Kendra snapped, “calm the fuck down. Take a breath please.” Kendra made Molly sit back down. “No accident. Nick hit me with the tennis ball. Why, are there wrinkles? And I don’t need ice or water. Wanna go swimming?”

Molly looked up at her, “good. Why? No you’re wrinkle free. OK and sure swimming sounds good.” She followed Kendra into her bedroom, and her huge walk-in closet that used to be another bedroom. Another one of Kendra’s kick-ass ideas. She grabbed her swim suit out of a drawer that Kendra kept empty for her, and as they changed. Kendra told her about the tennis, Nick’s crazy girlfriend, and Friday with Marissa. She placed her pink two piece halter style bathing suit on and then wondered why she kept it here instead of at her place.

She figured since Ken shared her tale of the past few days, she would indulge her friend on hers. “Eli was over this after noon.” Kendra held open the French doors that lead from her bedroom to the garden outside.

The shiny sequins on Kendra’s purple bathing suit reflected the sunlight which bounced off the water from the pool. “Why was he over?”

That’s where it gets a bit strange. He showed up telling me he wanted to work on the case, and then we ended up in my happy place, and…”

Wow, that sounded all sorts of wrong.” Kendra laughed.

Bite me, you know what I’m talking about.” Molly slipped into the pool, letting the water sluice over her body. After Eli’s visit, she needed to cool her heated flesh. “Anyways, after that we watched the end of Star Wars, episode three…”

Ooh Hayden Christensen in his underpants.”

Would you please?”

Sorry.”

Anyways, after that, he raced out of there and never said anything about the case.” Molly explained.

Kendra took the elastic from around her wrist and put up her long brown hair up into a knotted pony tail. “Maybe he likes you Molls.”

Doubtful. He likes my happy place.” They started to laugh. “You’re right,

that does sound wrong.”

The two floated around the pool on blown up rafts, then laid in the Asian inspired weaved loungers and drank the lemonade Kendra brought out. Hardy sat between the girls on a towel after his own quick swim.

Molly knew something was weighing on Kendra’s mind, but after the day Kendra had, and the fact that Molly could read her best friend so well, that it wasn’t a time to push. She could just tell by the way Ken’s brows were creased.

You know something,” began Kendra, “all we really do need is love.”

Molly rolled her head slowly to look at her, “excuse me?”

When John Lennon sang, All you need is love, he was right.”

Molly made a telephone ringing sound the placed her pinky to her mouth and her thumb to her ear, “Hello? Yeah hang-on, she’s right here.” She paused, “it’s for you, it’s random calling.”

Yeah-yeah-yeah” Kendra waved her off. “I was getting to it. I’m feeling quite deep right now.”

Sure you are.”

What I mean is that, we are looking for the same thing.”

The Virgin Mary’s image in our taco shells?” Molly joked.

No douche, everyone looks for love. For some it’s like water, they need it. Yet, you and I, are different.” She paused, “you and I are looking for something different yet we always end up with the same thing. Doing the same thing.”

Molly pushed her self up and supported herself with her elbows, “how so?”

Kendra swung her legs over the side of her lounger, nearly missing Hardy, and sat up. “We have had our fair share of opportunities to have love, but we never actually get too close. We run.”

Yeah I know, so what’s your point?”

Why do we do that?” Kendra asked.

Easy. There’s two reasons why we run the other way.” Molly sat up and faced Kendra. “One, we run first to avoid getting hurt.” She grabbed her friends hand, “and two, we love our homes, our space way too much to allow a man to come in and ruin it by nailing a deers head to the wall.”

Kendra dropped her friends hand, “that makes sense.”

I really hate it when you get all philosophical.” Molly stated before diving back into the pool.

Nick pulled up in front of Kendra’s house just as a black pick-up truck pulled out. She was standing on her front porch, with her hand shielding her eyes from the morning sun, and was still in her pajamas.

He parked and got out, “thought you’d be ready.”

I over slept. Sorry. There’s coffee if you want some, it shouldn’t take me too long to change.” She said as she invited him inside.

Sure, thanks.” Nick said. “Where’s the pooch?”

My dad’s taking him in for his check-up.”

Poor dog,” Nick watched her hips as they sauntered into the kitchen.

Her kitchen was really nice, three-times the size of his. White cabinets

with the butcher block style counter tops, and a smoothing baby blue on the walls. Nick watched as she pulled a blue mug from the cupboard. It had a Killer whale on the side. She poured him some coffee and then turned to him, “milk or sugar?”

Nope, this is good, thanks.” He smiled as he raised the cup to his lips.

Don’t thank me yet.” She pushed the sugar bowl over to him.

The coffee was so strong that if he hadn’t already had hair on his chest, this coffee would certainly do just that. He scooped in two teaspoons of the sugar, “where the hell did you learn how to make coffee?”

My grandfather.” She looked all sleepy and tired, and the tight yellow tank top that clung to her breasts matched the light cotton pants she was wearing that hung low on her slender hips. Kendra looked good enough to take back to bed, and worship her in a way that only he could show.

Kendra showed him into the living room wearing her dead Muppet slippers again, and told him to make himself comfortable.

Her living room was purple. A light purple which worked with her plush white sectional. The area rug was white and fuzzy, and it tickled his bare toes. “What she do, slaughter the entire Muppet Show?” He said to himself. Nick looked up at the television with I Love Lucy on it, housed inside a nice wooden armoire. He took a gulp of his coffee and continued to survey her home. A framed picture of Kendra and some guy who looked similar to her, only instead of dark brown eyes, he had blue eyes. A pair of carved, very detailed, ducks sat on top of the armoire, and next to them was a double frame with two school photos of the two kids he played with at Molly’s parents. Nick moved around the room taking in the space. He could see her dining room through a pair of French styled pocket doors. It was very country-esque. On a shelf in the corner he found a picture of both Molly and Kendra, their hair braided, wearing a sarongs and bikini tops being kissed by dolphins. Her home was exactly that, home. It was cozy, girly, but it was a home.

He was starring at a leather mask, on a styrofoam head that same kind which hair dressers use to style wigs on. It was on top of the book case. There were what looked like humming bird shaped sides that came down along the jaw line, and the colours were vibrant purples, golds, and white.

It’s a luchador mask,” she said from behind him.

Nick turned around, she was really close to him, “what’s a luchador mask?”

It’s what they call wrestlers in Mexico. My brother picked it up for me when he vacationed there last year.” Kendra explained. He wanted to ask more questions, but they were already late enough, so he smile and nodded then stepped around her to pick up his coffee mug. He walked quietly into the kitchen and placed the mug into her white ceramic sink and then met her at the front door.

It didn’t take long for the car to grow hot. Nick had already decided that Eli got Kendra’s company next time, as he found out the hard way that she hated the

heat. She kept fanning herself with her note book and kept commenting on how hot it was.

Don’t drink too much Kenny,” he warned. “We still have another four hours before we can leave.”

She knocked back another gulp of Diet Coke, “don’t call me Kenny, thank-you.” Nick shrugged at her request. “There’s no cross breeze. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was a cross breeze.”

Please Kendra, shut-up.”

Thankfully she did, but Nick felt a tad guilty for the way he asked her to be quiet. He watched her carefully, hoping that she didn’t take too much offense. Like Eli, Kendra took meticulous notes on a pad of yellow legal paper. Her handwriting was bubbly, but perfect, and beside each notation, she would jot down the time. Unlike him, she never doodled. He looked down at his illegible scribble and the doodles of the fat bastard they were watching and his large breasted trophy wife.

Kendra looked over, shook her head and continued to watch the house. “What?” He asked.

She looked at him, “interesting way to take notes. By pictograph.”

Nick laughed, “I get bored easily.”

Me too, which is why complaining comes so easily.”

Bitching. You were bitching.”

I wasn’t bitching, I was complaining.”

He coughed the word “bitching,” and she chose to ignore him. “Why didn’t you take Hardy to the vets?”

Kendra paused, her pen hovering above the paper and her lips pursed together. After a few seconds she finally answered him. “He wasn’t going in for his check-up. He had that in May.”

So what’s he going in for?”

He’s being neutered.”

Bitch!” Nick gasped. “Still doesn’t explain why you didn’t take him to get his balls butchered.”

I thought it best that my dad take him,” she answered. He still didn’t get it. “My dad understands how he feels.”

Your father is neutered?” Nick was slightly horrified.

No, but his balls haven’t belonged to him since he met my mother. Lola decides what he does and doesn’t do with them.”

Nick looked at her, she was serious. “What? Like as in when he can…”

Yep!”

And if he…”

Ah-huh!”

Poor dude!” He sympathized, his girlfriend had control over his balls right now.

The muffled sound of Hello, Goodbye interrupted their conversation, and Nick watched Kendra dig through her purse and flip open her cell phone.

Hi dad, how’s my baby?” She greeted. Nick listened to her half of the conversation. “Oh don’t give me that….Of course he is, there’s nothing there to

lick… I’ll be there as soon as I can, I’m working right now. That’s because he’s basically stoned…yeah-yeah…See you soon.” She hung-up.

A couple hours later, Eli and Molly showed up to relieve them, and Kendra asked if Nick could drop her off at her parents house. He was fine with that. Nick sort of wanted to check on Hardy just to make sure the dog still had a penis.

Her parents house was more on the coast. About twenty relaxing minutes out of his way with an incredible view of the ocean, which was pretty sweet. A wrap around porch painted white, framed the lower level of the yellow house with the white shudders on the windows.

A man with a slight beer belly, and a short, neatly groomed beard sat on the porch swing, slowly rocking, as Hardy sat next to him with a sad look on his pudgy face and a ridiculous looking plastic cone thing around his head.

Kendra opened the door to the black SUV and faced him, “thank-you for the ride. I know it’s a bit out of your way.”

Ken, I’m coming with you. I gotta check on the dog.” He informed her before he reached for the door handle. She stammered her comments and he got out.

Nick walked up to the porch and introduced himself, “hello Mr. Morgan, I’m Nick Dupree. Kendra’s temporary partner.”

Her father took his hand in a more than solid grip, “nice to meet you.”

Hi daddy,” Kendra greeted as she hesitently walked up the wooden steps, avoiding certain spots.

Hi Ra,” her father smiled.

While father and daughter talked in soft voices, Nick walked over to Hardy, “hey buddy. What did your mom do to you, eh?” The dog licked his hand. He wasn’t really an animal person, but the dog was ugly and cute in a strange way. Plus for some reason Hardy always seemed to be around. Now he felt it was his duty to protect the little guy.

Kendra’s father looked over to him, “shame isn’t it?”

The front wooden screened door creaked open and a woman teetering on high heels, with long light brown hair stepped out. She was in her early to mid fifties. “Men are way too attached to their dicks.”

MOM!” Kendra exclaimed.

Of course we are. They’re attached to us.” Nick responded. “I’m Nick, Kendra’s partner.”

Lola, please to meet you.” She eyed him, then looked at her daughter and smiled.

Nick had never met such a blunt and open woman. Kendra’s mother was curvy in a 1960’s pin-up kind of way. Her face was made up in subtle make-up but make-up none the less and her clothes were a bit tighter than should be for a woman her age, but not disgustingly tight. She lit up a cigarette and eyed him. Lola Morgan was nothing like her daughter. He felt slightly uneasy around the woman.

Kendra, honey, you really should wear your hair differently if you want to attract the right kind of men.” Lola suggested, then looked at him.

He watched the tension between Kendra’s shoulder’s develop quickly.

She turned slightly away and he noticed she rolled her eyes. Nick could tell that neither of them would be staying much longer and that he was going to have to drive her home.

Kendra McCartney Morgan, don’t give me sass.” Lola scolded.

Kendra don’t give your mother any sass,” her farther added with a smirk.

Clark, really? You are mocking me in front of our daughter’s,” Lola made those finger quotations, “partner.”

Do you golf Nick?” Her father asked changing the subject.

Yes sir, I do. Although I haven’t had very many chances lately to get out on the greens. How about yourself?”

I’m out about three times a week.” Clark Morgan answered.

Nice, I’m jealous. My job keeps me fairly busy.” Nick smiled.

Kendra tapped her foot, “Nick, are you ready to go?”

Am I driving you home?”

If you wouldn’t mind, please.”

Nick took mercy on her and bid his farewell to her parents. Her father making him promise to set up a tee time sometime soon. He gently picked Hardy up for Kendra and carried him to the car. They were on the road as quick as possible, and minutes ticked by before Kendra said a word to him. She was embarrassed and he knew that because she apologized for her mother’s behaviour.

Don’t worry about it. But I will say that I’m not used to women her age to be that, blunt.”

Most aren’t.”

My mom is like the exact opposite.” He went on to explain that unlike her mother, his mom dressed in tan khaki pants, and toned down sweater sets with a strand of pearls around her neck, and her hair was always in a French twist. “She’s not uptight or anything, but my mom would never say the word dick. She would say ‘male part’ or ‘penis’.”

Don’t get me wrong. My mom is really funny and fun, but she like attention so when there are new people around she often comes off as either a bitch or acts up. I sometimes wished that she would be more subdued.”

At least your mom breaks the tension, my mom creates it by coming off as snooty. Once she gets to know you, she’s fine.” Nick explained. “My step father, he’s pretty cool. He’s a lot like Molly’s father, and a bit like yours. At least from what I can tell your dad’s like.”

My dad’s pretty laid back. He golfs, swims in the ocean, does wood working, doesn’t worry about things too much because it’s not good for his blood pressure. That sort of stuff.” She looked over her shoulder at Hardy. “What about your real dad?”

Nick ignored the question.

Chapter 10:

The light outside began to fade. As the sun went down the sky was a beautiful collection of colours, yellows, oranges, reds, pinks and purples. Lights along the walk way of the Marceno house came on and illuminated the brick walk way. The air wasn’t as humid or hot as it had been earlier, and there was a slight breeze which blew through the two open car windows. Eli looked down at his notes, four large men have come and gone six times in the two and a half hours he and Molly sat down the street. He looked over at her and she looked bored.

They remained quiet since the moment he picked her up, and neither really even looked at the other. Nick and Kendra looked in a hurry to leave, other than a brief briefing session not much had been said since. Eli wondered if Molly was mad at him for crashing her place the day before. He didn’t really care but he didn’t exactly conduct himself in the most professional manner, and hoped it wouldn’t affect the job.

The front door flew open and Marissa Marceno walked out angrily. She was yelling something behind her. A few seconds later, the smartly dressed Cuban king-pin came out behind her. Eli lifted the round plate with a long, foam covered microphone up just enough to get sound. He shoved the ear phones on his head and proceeded to take notes.

You don’t fucking own me Rudy!” Marissa screamed.

I do fucking own your sorry ass.” He screamed back, “now when I said to get back in dis house, you get back in dis house.”

Screw yourself!” She yelled back.

Dunt talk to me like dat! You would be nothing but a whore on the streets without me, you ungrateful bitch!”

Eli looked at Molly, whose brows were raised as she watched the confrontation.

The woman was wearing tight jeans and a red shirt which her breast practically hung right out of, she dropped her keys and bent to pick them up. “I will not come home Rudy, until you apologize.”

I will not apologize. You were da one who disobeyed me!” Rudy waddled as fast as he could towards her, “dunt you get into dat car!”

Marissa unlocked her car doors and got in, slamming the doors and likely locking them. Rudolph Marceno was yanking his fat little heart out on the door handle as the car’s engine roared. She tore out of the driveway so fast, she

nearly took her husband’s arm off.

Molly looked at Eli, smirked then whistled. “That was something.”

That it was.” He agreed. “Nothing useful though. But also not very promising.”

Oh yeah, tomorrow’s tennis and lunch appointment. Ooh if she cancels, Kendra’s gonna be pissed off. All that tennis crammed into a week for no reason.” Molly stated.

Eli put down the microphone, “tell her, it’s always good to learn a new skill.”

Are we talking about the same Kendra? Because I don’t think we are. She hates learning new things and prefers to just coast by on what she already knows.” Molly informed him. “If Marissa Marceno cancels tomorrow, she’s gonna be pissed that she wasted time learning something she’ll never use again when she could have been doing anything else.”

He just laughed, but he also saw her point. But the main worry was for Eli, was that the case now rested on the woman who just ran out during what sounded like a major fight with their suspect. He saw his career going down the drain as he sat there. It was like the universe was pissed off at him for something and not only is he relying on this woman to help him out without even knowing it, but both Kendra and Molly as well. He hardly knew them, and yet he was putting all his eggs into their baskets. Eli knew it was his idea but he should have just left it alone. Never should have gone with Nick to their office to break in. Never should have enlisted their help. He didn’t need help going down the toilet, he was quite capable of reaching up from within his toilet bowl from hell and pulling the handle himself.

Molly sat there as the night slipped in. The house was quiet. Eli was quiet. It wasn’t just his silence that she noticed, but the shift in the tension in the air. He was emanating his stress. It was then she realized that if tomorrow’s tennis and lunch appointment was canceled, then his and Nick’s case was basically over, and Sausage-fingers gets away.

He rubbed his face with his hands. Eli looked like he hadn’t shaved all day, but Molly figured it was just because he enjoyed the rough look it gave to him. She suspected he would have a baby face without all the stubble. She returned her attention to the pad of paper on her lap. It was empty with the exception of, “buy grapefruit and iced tea mix” written down. She never was good at keeping notes. Eli on the other hand, his notes were perfect. Printed neatly with the exact times written down in the left hand column. His anal-ness

reminded her of Kendra.

I don’t think we can give up, quite yet.” Molly said hoping to reassure him. “There is a small chance that Marissa won’t cancel. She’ll need some quality bitching time, and if she wanted to, she could easily spill information that may still help us.”

Eli looked at her. His blue eyes pierced her own, and she wasn’t sure if he was going to tell her to just drop it or what. “Are you trying to lure me into a false sense of security, or just being optimistic?”

She gave him her most sympathetic smile, “optimistic. I wouldn’t lure you to anything. I doubt I could even if I tried. I was merely pointing out a possibility.”

Yeah you’re right. I need to be optimistic. There’s a chance that she’ll just spill everything. I still don’t think she knows too much, but maybe, just maybe she does.” Eli flung his head back, and it bounced slightly off the head rest. “If we don’t get an invite to that party, then our lieutenant will pull this case, and Nick and I will be writing parking tickets.”

She doubted that they would end up writing parking tickets, but then again she had to admit to herself that she really didn’t know anything about the men working with her and Kendra. He could be worse off than she realized. Molly had nothing good to say so she just smiled.

I thought so.” He smiled back. “Fuck this, lets call it a night.”

The next morning, the four of them met at the girls’ office, Kendra in her tennis outfit, with her racket sitting on top of her desk with her purse. Molly wearing a snazzy yet youthful, trophy wife type outfit and her hair down, flat ironed and as long as Kendra could get it without extensions. Eli was tense and tired looking. He clearly hadn’t slept all night long, and Nick was starting to worry about the case. It was time to get serious and know what will happen if today fails.

They sat in silence, and a ridiculous pink poodle clock with a pendulum tail sat on the wall, ticking away. In about twenty minutes the girls were meeting Marissa, and so far she hadn’t called to cancel. They had only a few days to get invited to this party and it was this Saturday. Kendra picked up her tennis racket and her purse. Molly did the same.

Nick wasn’t dumb, he knew there was still a chance that on their way over to the country club that Marissa Marceno could call Kendra’s cell phone to cancel, or just not show up once they were at the club.

It’s time. Call us if she doesn’t show or if you need us.” Eli said as he stood up from the chair parked in front of Molly’s desk.

Are you guys going to wait here?” Molly asked.

Sure if that’s alright with the two of you?” Eli asked. Both girls nodded.

Nick and Kendra’s eyes locked and a message of being careful silently transmitted from him to her.

Kendra and Molly walked into the lobby at the country club and up to the front desk. Kendra was just about to ask for Marissa when they were greeted by the high pitched, excited greeting from the woman in question. She didn’t cancel or stand them up. Molly felt relief wash over her.

Introductions were made and Marissa took an instant shine to Molly, calling her clever and beautiful. She did comment on the fact that they didn’t look like sisters, so Kendra came up with step-sisters. Thankfully Marissa didn’t freak out about being misinformed. Molly watched as the two women played tennis. She couldn’t help but chuckle a bit when Marissa was no more schooled at the game than Kendra was. She text messaged Eli to let him know the plan was on going and that the two were playing a sad came of tennis.

Molly smiled and waved to the girls on the court, and looked around the area. Lots of trees and flowers lined the coble stone pathways. There were six tennis courts, a huge pool complete with waterfall. Ponds inserted in various spots in the gardens, all full of coy fish. Waiters and waitresses walked around all areas offering their services. She would hate to have to work in this place, however she could get used to being a member. One day, she thought to herself.

Their match ended and they walked towards her, patting their faces with little white hand towels provided by the club.

I’m sorry I don’t know much about tennis, but I’m dying to know who won.” Molly asked.

Kendra beat me. Actually she slaughtered me.” Marissa beamed. “I had a lot of fun though. Thank-you.”

Oh not a problem.” Kendra smiled back.

The tennis game was followed by lunch. Molly wasn’t too impressed with the fact that for $20.00 all she got was a tiny little salad, a bottle of water and this piddly little piece of chicken, which probably was only half a chicken breast.

Kendra didn’t fair much better. Instead of water, she got her usual, Diet Coke, without lemon on the glass, it came with lime instead, and Kendra’s brow etched her displeasure. She hated fruit of any kind in her Diet Coke. She got a chicken on a pita, which probably was Molly’s chicken’s other half, and they charged Kendra extra for Titziki sauce. Molly changed her mind about wanting to be a member, because no matter how rich she got, she wouldn’t pay these prices to for the shit amount of food they served.

It’s so great to just get out and hang with the girls for a change.” Marissa said as she sipped her wine.

Don’t go out much with your friends?” Molly asked.

Marissa looked down at her hands, “no not really. Partly because I don’t have any.” Both Kendra and Molly looked at each other than back to the woman sitting beside them. “I’m not really well liked by most women. Rudy says it’s because they are intimidated by my beauty.”

I understand,” Kendra sympathized, and Molly knew that she didn’t. “I have a hard time myself meeting people to become friends with.”

You do?” Marissa seemed rather surprised. “Well I’m glad we met.”

Molly looked over at her friend, and sure enough there was a touch of guilt that just flashed in Kendra’s eyes. Thankfully it was just a flash. Kendra never could feel guilty for very long. “I was surprised myself when Kendra told me that she was meeting a friend for tennis so soon after moving here.”

I know it may be soon, but my husband and I are throwing a summer bash tomorrow night, and I would love to have you both there, with your men of course.” Marissa dug through her large bag, and pulled out two invitations. “Here you are. I will be sure to put your names on the list. Just make sure you bring the invitations just in case it slips my mind.”

Kendra and Molly took the cream coloured envelopes that the woman handed to them. The boys would be pleased. Mission accomplished.

The afternoon went by pretty fast after that. Both Molly and Kendra could finally relax.

Nick watched Eli pace back and forth in Kendra’s office. It drove him nuts when Eli paced, and now he was wearing a pattern in the girls’ floor. It was already two in the afternoon, and the heat and humidity was bad. He really just wanted to go and do nothing but play his X-box in his cool condo.

He leaned back in Kendra’s desk chair and propped his feet up on her desk. He was sure she would freak out if she came in and his feet were up, but right now he wanted comfort. Which he wasn’t. Nick had already played an hour worth of games on her hard drive, and there wasn’t anything other than Spider Solitaire.

At least they didn’t get stood up, but I would have thought Molly to text me or something to let me know what was going on.” Eli stated. He was so impatient sometimes.

I’m sure she would have if she had an opportunity.” Nick rebutted. Eli kept walking the floor. “Would you please stop walking, and sit down. They should be back soon.”

Eli stopped looked at him and extended his middle finger then kept on walking.

Nick contemplated shooting him, but the man already had one of his bullets in his ass. It just didn’t seem fair to do it again.

He heard the sounds of female laughter mixed in with the click-click of a pair of heels and a light thud of a running shoe coming down the hall. Nick removed his feet from Kendra’s desk and checked the surface for marks. All clear. Seconds later the door opened. Nick stood.

We’re, in!” Kendra beamed excitedly.

Oh thank-God!” Eli exclaimed.

Molly handed Eli their envelope and Kendra hand him theirs. Tomorrow night they will be attending the summer celebration thrown at the Marceno’s home. Finally the chance for both Eli and Nick to meander off and search the home. The party would be in the back yard, away from the house. Nick high-fived Kendra and Eli just tapped Molly on the shoulder awkwardly.

We need to go over the story and the plan,” Eli said taking control, as usual. They all pulled the chairs to the middle of the room, then Molly locked the office door. “Story first. We all show up together, because chances are Marissa will expect the two sister to show up together.”

Sorry, but just for interest,” Molly interrupted, “but she kept commenting on how Ken and I didn’t look the same, so we went with the step-sister angle.”

Thanks for letting us know,” Eli said. “That’s perfectly fine.”

I have the perfect cover story if Rudolph Marceno pulls Molls and I aside.”

Kendra began, Eli encouraged her to go on. “I figure I’ll just say that we work a more intimate angle with our female subjects. Tell him that befriending his wife was the way to get direct information out of her, because women always talk to their friends.”

Perfect.” Nick spoke. Eli looked at him. So it was going to be a cock-fight between the two of them for the role of macho man. He was ready. Eli could bring it.

Alright, so we all show up together and we don’t all stick together. Molly and I are expected to stick together because of being husband and wife. Nick you have a bit more freedom because you are known simply as Kendra’s boyfriend. Travel around a bit, take in conversations, Kendra you can do the same. We all will be wired.” Eli commandeered the entire case.

For about two hours they talked about the plan and their stories. All left the office feeling confident in the plan. Except Nick.

Kendra opened the French doors from her bedroom to the back yard. The scent of her garden drifting in, filling her nose of the sent of her many hydrangea bushes, and lavender. She quickly changed out of her tennis outfit from hell, and placed her two piece Burberry bikini on. The bottoms were in the original designer plaid with a matching halter style bikini top. Her hair was a tad sweaty from being up in a pony tail while playing tennis, which she would only admit to herself, she kind of enjoyed. The wind was starting to pick up and she decided that she would make her dip in the pool a quick one. The scent of summer rain was in the air. Maybe if she was lucky a thunder storm. She put her CD player on, and the sound of The Beatles filled the house and her back yard.

The flagstone was warm beneath her feet as she stepped outside and walked the path with her dog faithfully at her feet. She dove in and let the water cool her over-heated flesh. Hardy took position poolside with his head hanging over the edge looking at his own reflection. Kendra’s back ached from the running and the slouching that tennis has your body doing. She swam her laps slower than usual. Swimming was part of her work-out routine, something fun for her to do when the weather allowed. She didn’t have the benefit of eating and doing nothing like Molly had. Kendra had to work a little harder at it, but it was paying off. She was in the best condition of her life. Her body was almost similar to her mother’s, just not as curvy. Kendra still sported the hour glass figure, only it was slight. Her hips weren’t as wide as her mother’s, and her breasts, although a fair size, not as full either. Usually her morning started on her treadmill which she liked to refer to as her dreadmill.

She floated around on her back with a pool noodles under both her neck and feet, and closed her eyes. The sun was going in and out of the slowly rolling

in clouds. Kendra knew she wouldn’t have much time in her pool today. One of her favourite songs came on her make shift sound system of her stereo and their speakers placed in the doorway, and she started singing low to herself. She did have neighbours after all.

I read the news today, oh boy,…” She sang on about A Day In The Life. One of John Lennon’s best songs. It wasn’t until Hardy jumped up and ran through her flower beds that she realized someone was coming.

Nice singing,” the male voice said, surprising her.

She nearly drowned as she fell off her noodles and went under the water. When Kendra popped back up, it was Nick, standing by her pool side. She spat out some water out of her mouth. She wasn’t expecting him, and didn’t think she would see him until tomorrow evening.

I’m swimming, what’s up?” Kendra was slightly annoyed.

I wanted to chat, but I heard the music coming from the backyard around front and thought I’d just find you here. Which I did.”

Good thing I wasn’t skinny dipping.” She said as she swam over to the side and walked up the steps.

I don’t know, I’m kind of sad that you weren’t.” He handed her a towel with a basset hound on it.

Kendra took it and ran the soft terry cloth over her slightly tanned limbs. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

Earlier today.”

I could tell you weren’t too happy, but what happens between you and Eli, is your business.” Kendra looked up. The first drop of rain landed on her nose. She better dry off fast.

Nick didn’t expect to see Kendra in her bathing suit. A bikini none the less, but he was happy to. She was incredible. He was in a bit of trouble. Now he couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off of her as she ran that dog towel over her stomach, the dangly jewel in her belly button swinging back and forth. The towel traveled down her legs, then back up again. She re-dried her chest, pushing on her breasts. His mouth was gonna start to water if he wasn’t careful.

I can’t talk to anyone else about it because it’s undercover work.” He stated.

I didn’t think men talked about things. It’s my understanding that they like to keep things bottled up.” Kendra said as she walked over to Nick.

They sat down on the lounge chairs. Knees to knees. Since he was wearing shorts, his knees bumped hers and he knew she could feel his skin on hers. It was kind of strange.

It just bothers me when he does that. Takes over the entire case. He never let you girls get any suggestions on. And when he says perfect he doesn’t actually mean it. It’s just his way of waving you off.” Nick explained.

Kendra leaned forward, the towel wrapped around her, “are you sure you’re just not over exaggerating?”

Nick looked into her brown eyes, “I thought I was earlier, but when I got home I tried to relax a bit but I couldn’t.” Their eyes remained locked, although she blinked a few times and looked down. Down at what he wasn’t sure. “You know that feeling when something bothered you and it just wouldn’t go away no matter what you do?”

Yeah, I know that feeling.”

Well that’s what this is. He’s always pushing my opinions and contributions to the side like nothing.” Nick could smell the mixture of chlorine and vanilla coming from her skin. He took a chance and reached for her hand.

Kendra gave it freely. “You could always try talking to him.” Her voice dropped an octave. “I know that’s a cliché but it does help in working out a relationship whether it’s a personal or professional one.”

A lump formed in his throat and he couldn’t speak. He thought he heard her tell him to talk to Eli, but he wasn’t sure. The next thing Nick knew, his hand was cupping her face. Her skin cool and soft beneath his touch. Beads of water still hung on her long dark eyelashes. He couldn’t help himself.

Chapter 11:

There was a slight hitch in her breath, and Nick felt it, but slowly continued to move in closer. Part of him wanted Kendra to push him away, but he really wanted this kiss. For all the wrong reasons, and for some right ones. He was scared as to where this was going to lead, and for a dude that was just wrong. Her eyes were at half mast and she wasn’t pushing him away, she was silently begging him to touch her.

Nick and Kendra’s breath mixed as he found his lips so very close to hers, and his hand was tangled in her wet hair. When their lips finally touched, the clouds above them opened up and pouring rain soaked them.

Hardy took off inside.

Kendra’s heart was pounding really hard, and her head was having trouble wrapping around what was happening, too bad her body wasn’t. Her nippled puckered against the cold and wet material of her bikini top. Her skin turned to goose pimples, and as her hands knotted themselves into his white t-shirt, they shook.

He tasted like cinnamon and man. His mouth was warm and she could feel his tongue touching her lips, seeking entry. She obliged. The kiss sweet at first, then quickly turned into something feverish. She felt his tongue explore her mouth, and then stopped.

Nick slowly pulled away, “is that a tongue ring?”

Yes,” she answered. This was so wrong. Kendra stood up, putting distance between them. But Nick stood up just as fast.

He grabbed her hand and pulled her to him, “and you were the one who said I did great things with my tongue,” and then he kissed her again. Both ignoring the hard rain drops pelting their soaked flesh.

Kendra greedily ate up his kisses as the thunder rolled through the skies above them. The next thing she realized, he was scooping her up into his arms, and carrying her out of the rain and into her bedroom.

She felt the cool material of her white islet bedspread touch her bare feet, and thighs as he laid her down on top of her bed. When Kendra opened her eyes, Nicks knees were straddling hers and he was stripping off his soaked t-shirt. With the exception of his cargo shorts, and her bathing suit, they were skin to skin.

His shoulder’s were strong and his back muscles flexed and bunched

beneath the touch of her hand. Nick had dark hair on his stomach that trailed down below the waist line of his shorts, and it tickled her skin.

Their tongues hungrily ate each other up, then his mouth left hers and kissed the spot between her shoulder and neck before traveling down to her that space between her breasts. Nick pressed his palm into her breasts and gave gentle squeezes.

A huge clap of thunder, powerful enough to lightly shake her four poster bed, snapped him out of his trance and his head whipped up. Instantly Kendra knew the moment between them was gone, but if she was the was the woman she thought she was, she would have stopped it. A part of her knew that woman was gone the moment Nick touched her. The kind of woman she usually is would never have let him get this close since he had a girlfriend and they were working together.

He rolled off her bed, banging his heel on the thick wood of the poster attached to the foot board, then reached for his t-shirt. “I’m sorry Kendra, this never should have happened.”

Although he was still talking, Kendra’s head was blocking out his words and she heard nothing. She was embarrassed and slightly freaked out. He was gone in a flash, and she fell back on to her bedspread, still in her wet bathing suit.

Nick ran to his car through the heavy rain. What the hell did he just do? He knew too damn well what he had just done but couldn’t understand what came over him. He was suppose to be there to talk to her about his frustrations about Eli and his controlling ways, but he should have kept his hands off of Kendra. They were working together and his career hindered on her and her investigating abilities. If things were different, then maybe he would have followed through with being with her. He liked her, a lot. Oh and of course he had a girlfriend.

He drove like hell home, splashing some elderly woman waiting under an umbrella at a bus stop. Too bad he didn’t feel bad for doing so, but right now he just wanted to get home, dried and play video games. The wind was getting stronger and he figured the video game idea might fizzle as the power will likely go out. Nick would never hear the Beatles or thunderstorms again without thinking of Kendra.

The Aliens franchise is a much better concept then Predator ever was,” Molly argued.

Eli begged to differ. They sat in her mini-theater watching Alien. Molly had

mentioned after the meeting they had, that she was going to go home and have an Sigorney Weaver Aliens fest, and Eli decided to invite himself. He stopped off an got some of the best popcorn to be popped in New England. But they were currently in a middle of a debate about which franchise was better, Aliens or Predator?

Eli preferred Arnold in the Predator over Sigorney Weaver in Alien, but he knew this was lose-lose situation for both of them. “I’ll give her that she isn’t too bad looking for a bald chick, but seriously? Do you really by the whole Alien thing?”

Do you really by the whole Predator thing?” Molly retorted.

He thought for a second, he really didn’t because it was just stupid to, but would he really give Molly the satisfaction? No way, “yes!”

Bullshit!”

Dammit! “Fine, I don’t. But I don’t believe in either, so does it really matter? The movies are both great franchises, and I enjoy both. I just prefer Arnold over a bald chick.”

Molly eyed him suspiciously, “so you are telling me, that you prefer a beefed up man with an accent and strong manly jaw line, over a bald chick sporting a tank top and braless?”

Dammit! “Shut up!” Eli turned away and pressed play to play the next film, ALIENS. Molly cackled next to him. “Why do you do that?”

Do what?”

Cackle like a banshee?” He asked.

Because I can.”

At least she was honest, he thought. He sat back and grabbed a handful of popcorn. The extra butter he added was still warm and the flavoured salt stuck to the fluffy snack. A strong taste of dill pickle made him smile. In the process he nearly choked as he in haled the salt. He coughed and she gave him a smile of understanding since she was also eating dill pickle salt on her pop corn as well. Minus the extra butter.

Eli was enjoying himself. The leather recliners were amazingly comfortable and the company was good. He liked that Molly didn’t talk through the movies but sat back and enjoyed them. It helped that they both had the same taste in movies, and she didn’t bitch and moan about the complexity of the script

like his ex-girlfriend, Patsy.

It was with that thought that he realzied he hadn’t seen her following him lately. Eli wondered where she was, not that he cared, but it seemed odd that she would just stop stalking him. He wasn’t complaining, he was rather happy that she buggered off.

The lights flickered and went off. Taking the movie with it, and Molly and Eli were surrounded in complete darkness, thanks to the black painted walls and black carpetting. Alone in the dark with a hot sci-fi chick. Eli couldn’t ask for more, except maybe a hurricane so he would get stranded there. No that wouldn’t happen.

It’s bad to get involved with someone you work with, right?” He found himself asking.

She was quiet for a few minutes, “why, you and Nick have something going?”

Ah, no!”

Yes it is bad to get involved with someone you work with. Especially in your line of work. As a break-up could mean the other might not be doing their best to provide back-up.” She explained.

OK then. I’ll give the power five more minutes, then I better just go. There’s no sense of waiting all night for the power to come back on. I can just go home to bed.” Eli stated. There was no way he could stay. He had a hard-on in his pants for the woman next to him and it was never going to get taken care of.

Sure, sounds,” she hesitated, “like a plan.”

Five minutes seemed to tick by slowly. Neither of them moved from their seats but sat silently in the dark. Molly wondered how long really has gone by, she figured more than five minutes. She fidgeted with her hands, not sure why she was but she wasn’t sure what she was suppose to do with them.

I should go.” He said. The leather making a “blonk” noise as he got up. She did the same. “Thanks Molly for the invite over.”

I didn’t techncially invite you, but thanks for coming over anyways. It was fun while it lasted.” Did she really just say something so cheesy? Chewbacca jumped into Eli’s chair and she could hear him turning in a circle before laying down.

Bye-bye Chewy, take care of your mom in this storm, Uncle Eli’s heading

home.” Eli spoke to her dog, and she was sure he was petting her dog’s head.

I’ll walk you out,” Molly said but as she turned she bumped into his solid chest. “Or you can walk me out.”

I can’t see a damn thing.” He whispered.

Molly couldn’t see anything but she could feel it. “I know what you mean.” Her voice dropping an octave.

Eli grabbed her hand awkwardly and pulled her out into the bedroom. A bit more light was in the room and he decided he needed to get out of there just as fast as the darker room behind him. Molly could feel him pulling her out of her bedroom. She couldn’t say she blamed him. Ten more seconds in either room and she would have broken her eight month dry spell.

He dropped her hand at the top of the stairs and headed down first, “careful on the stairs, Molly.”

I know my stairs, but thanks.” She followed.

His shoulders were a dark silhouette against the dark gray light of the outside and she followed him to her front door. Molly decided to take mercy on him, “grab your shoes and follow me. You can leave through the garage downstairs, it’s closer to your car.”

Oh that would be great thanks.” He bent down to pick up his running shoes. Molly checked out his ass. She managed to peel her eyes away from the tight denim encasing the nicest ass she’d seen in a long time before he caught her.

Molly lead him down the stairs to her basement level, and to the door leading to the garage. She noticed him checking out her game and library area.

Nice pool table.” He commented.

Thanks, it was Kendra’s originally but her basement is unfinished and she had no where else to put it.” Molly explained.