Quick piece about Deers at Marineland & Petting Zoo’s…

So my problem with the deer pavilion at Marineland and now other places where kids can interact with deer is this (and keep in mind, children are touching deer and who knows what else, and have a tendency to put their hands in their mouths before you have a chance to wash them). Problem is, that at Marineland you are surrounded by deer, their urine and poop. And what I learned about them this past weekend, sometimes their blood. Their blood can spray or drop on you from their antlers while shedding their velvet. Personally, when a deer is in the process of shedding their velvet, they should be out of the public view. As their blood, can be as dangerous to humans as their urine and poop. I don’t want my child around that.  http://youtu.be/BI9ezjPwIzM

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TOP 10 DISEASE PEOPLE CAN GET FROM DEER:

1. E. coli O157:H7 – from the feces
2. Leptospirosis – from the urine – can be transmitted through cuts including hang nails – Vaccination produces serological responses, but its effectiveness in protecting against disease, and prevention or reduction of shedding in urine, has not yet been confirmed in deer (2007)

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3. Lyme disease via ticks – an increasing concern – unless the deer are getting tick preventives there is no way this is not a risk – ticks fall off birds so it is a constant concern.
4. human babesiosis – from deer tick
5. human granulocytic ehrlichiosis – from deer tick
6. Mycobacterium bovis (tuberculosis) infection can occur from direct contact with a wound on an animal or by inhaling the bacteria in air exhaled by animals infected with M. bovis
7. Tularemia (Francisella tularensis bacteria) – potentially fatal – spread to people from deer by deerflies and other insects (incl ticks and fleas) or exposure of skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose and mouth) with deer blood or inhaling dust from contaminated soil

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8. Deer Parapoxvirus – causes scabby, crusty lesions on the muzzle, lips, face, ears, neck and antlers of affected deer – There have been two confirmed cases of deer parapoxvirus infection in humans in the U.S.. Both patients had nicked their fingers while dressing the deer carcasses and later developed pox lesions (scabby crusts) on their hands – Both reported that the deer had not shown any signs of illness at the time they were dressed.
9. Cryptosporidia from ingesting deer feces
10. Giardia from ingesting deer feces.

 

Next time you go to a petting zoo, or Marineland (even though I strongly advise against either), keep a close eye on yourself and especially your children and remember what type of health risks there are.

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Worst Experience of My Life- Marineland, Canada Investigation: Part Two

The last blog I covered the first half of my first investigation of one of the world’s worst aquariums. Actually a list was recently released and Marineland was number 2, behind Miami Seaquarium. I personally think it should be number 1, but I have never been to Miami Seaquarium. I know it’s a horrible place as well. Look up Lolita and her story. It’s as heartbreaking as Kiska’s. It’s time to move on and take a look at the remainder of my time at Marineland.

After we left the deer pavilion, we were still in shock for a long time about what we witnessed. It’s not every day you dodge deer blood flying around because they are doing something akin to self-mutilation. We headed to the bears. Now my memories of the bears were always horrible. Bears are suppose to be these big scary, aggressive predators, but at Marineland they are demoralized and weak. They sit in filthy water, their paddock reaking of feces, and they beg people for stale ice cream cones, which they can purchase at a little hut at the entrance to the bear area. Looking down at the bears sitting at the water’s edge or in the water, looking up at the people, begging for food, was pathetic. Sad and pathetic.

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It wasn’t until I got home and looked at my photos that I saw the sadness in the bears eyes. I have teddy bears from when I was a baby with eyes less sad looking.

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As an animal lover, I have an unexplained passion for orcas and know the most about them. It doesn’t mean that I don’t look at the pictures of the deer and the bears and feel less. I don’t. I look at these pictures of these bears and my heart is in pain for them. This is no way to treat an animal.

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This one photo that my friend took, says it all. Such a very powerful photo, and I wanted to make sure I shared it.

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After we left the bears, we headed over to Arctic Cove. This is where the Beluga whales are suppose to be housed. Instead, they are actually stashed all over the park because there are way too many. At Friendship Cove they were really active, but I accounted approximately eight in the one pool. Give or take. As we approached Arctic Cove, it was public feeding time. This when guest, usually children, pay extra to get up close and personal with a beluga whale by feeding him or her and getting to rub their melons.

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I decided to start counting. I got to twenty beluga whales and decided that number had to be wrong, so I played dumb with the one worker and flat out asked her, and sure enough, she said there were twenty beluga whales in this ONE pool. I managed to keep calm and said, “Oh, that’s what I thought but it looked like more.” Or something stupid. It’s really hard to play dumb with people who are clearly not as intelligent as you are.

My friend and I looked over and saw a man with another beluga whale, and we turned to look but the worker I had asked the dumb question to, asked if we would wait until he was finished feeding that particular beluga whale, as apparently the whale gets nervous. We obliged. Plus we didn’t want to look too eager to see this “nervous” beluga whale. We didn’t get a picture or even a chance to assess this whale. It may have been a missed opportunity, but one necessary for us to keep our cover.

We continued to observe the public feeding of the beluga’s. It’s great to see children smile and see these animals up close, I only wish it was in a different type of environment. I by no means, recommend anyone to partake in this type of interaction. There are just so many things that can go wrong. Beluga’s may not necessarily be aggressive by nature, but a trainer in the show pool was bit and attacked last year. Dolphins at Sea World, have been known to bite park visitors while doing a similar activity. It’s just not safe for your children to be this close.

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My friend also noticed, that they were using Kiska’s pail to feed the one Beluga. As you can see in the above photo.

We then headed to the underground viewing area. Again, there was a lot of leaks and pooling of water. Plus evidence of mold.

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Also present, was filthy water, with dirt and fecal matter, both in the main tank where there were 20 beluga’s, and then in the other tank that was being used as a nursery (and much much smaller than the first tank).

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In the viewing area, which was being used as the nursery, they had crammed in 5 females, and 4 babies. One female was pregnant. My concern was the dirt and fecal matter at the bottom of the tank, as well as the fact that they were all just crammed into a rather small tank.

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I actually found this rather sad. There wasn’t really any place for a mother and her calf to get away from the others. And it was my friend who managed to get the better pictures of a calf who was banged up. We both noticed it, but couldn’t say a thing to each other as an employee was working observation right next to us.

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It was unbelievable the amount of Beluga whales were stashed throughout this park. God knows if any were packed inside the infamous Barn. The barn is a dank, and indoor space where the animals are kept that aren’t being used, or where they go in the off season. There is no natural light, and often are subjected to fumes from diesel run equipment. It’s a concrete hell. Whether or not there were beluga’s inside the Barn, I counted approximately 40 Beluga whales inside Marineland. They just keep breeding these whales. Chances are some might even be inbred. Recently I spotted a beluga whale in one of my friend’s photos and was concerned about the shape of it’s melon. I have sent off inquiries about it but as of this time, have yet to hear back from any beluga researchers. We have our suspicions that it might likely be inbreeding, if anything at all. When you have 40 beluga whales, it’s going to be impossible to prevent inbreeding.

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It’s just ridiculous that there are so many of one species in one place. My theory is, ever since the Toronto Star article came out two summers ago, that Marineland’s reputation is mud now. They can’t sell their beluga’s. Instead, they are overloaded.

In that number of 40, two of them were in living in the show pool, in King Waldorf’s Stadium.

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Two belugas, live in the right hand side pool. Five bottlenosed dolphins live in the small left hand side pool.

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The so-called show wasn’t much of a show. The MC at the beginning basically mocked the wild animals by talking about the ocean in which they were from. Playing their vocals, to “educate” the public. Granted, the vocalizations of the animals, were the only thing educating about this entire 25 minute show. The California sea lions came out and did the usual comedy routine. The dolphins then came out to do some of the high spots. Earlier, I had spotted the one dolphin who I wasn’t sure if there was skin irritations on or not. We were on an angle and up a bit too high and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get a decent photo. At first glance, it looked like a pox virus, but I can’t be sure at all. It very well could have just been the angle and glares of the dolphin’s wet skin. I hope it was nothing. However what we cannot deny are the massive rake marks on Echo’s body.

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Marineland’s one universal criticism is that the park is highly dated. Nothing says more high-tech then using a store regulated, yellow-braided rope to open and close your rusty gates…

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There really wasn’t much value in the show. We really only had one reason to be there. The walrus. The end of the show finale, done by one of the park’s five walrus. My friend had already seen three out of the five; Apollo, Sonja and Buttercup. We were hoping for Smooshi or Zeus. Smooshi is quite famous. She’s a central part of former trainer and whistle-blower, Phil Demers. He had a special relationship with Smooshi who had a series of problems. He’s constantly asking for people to send him photos if they see her in shows. Sadly, she’s rarely used. It might be because of Phil, and it might be because she isn’t well. Whatever the reason is, we are all really worried about her. We would still have to wait to see either Smooshi or Zeus. We were treated to Apollo. He’s a big boy. I’m concerned about the redness in his eyes. It’s a suggestion that water quality is to be called into question.

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It’s a mystery to us as to why the Sea Lions and Walrus’, as well as dolphins are not on public display in between shows.

Speaking of sketchy water conditions. I wasn’t prepared for the last and final spot on our tour. An indoor aquarium, where Marineland uses a former smaller show pool to house their seals. The moment you approached the door to this indoor facility, you are assaulted by the chlorine smell. It was then that I remember smelling it outside of the park, standing on the other side of the Aquarium wall, while I was waiting for my friend to arrive. It’s no wonder, because that place was over-chlorinated. Nothing was more explanatory than seeing the animals who were forced to live in the pool. All of them, had their eyes shut as tight as possible.

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Even when they did open them above the water, some closed them immediately. Aside from seeing Kiska, this was probably one of the most heartbreaking places I had to endure. Inside the aquarium, there was no natural light. There was nothing to enrich the seals or keep them occupied. Just an empty over-chlorinated pool of water.

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Also that caught my attention was the barred-door left open, I couldn’t help but bend down to quickly snap a photo of what was inside. Dry dock. it looked like a small platform for the seals to get on when they were tired of swimming. I’m not really sure, to be honest. It looked just as dingy as the rest of the place we were standing in. Not to mention the rusty concrete walls (to your right).

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One would think with the amount of chlorine we were ingesting, you would expect the water to be clear. Well, you would be wrong. Not only was it not clear, it was disgusting.

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The photo was of the same area, as the top one that my friend took. Actually both are her photos. My other concern was the filter at the bottom of the pool. One I really couldn’t get a decent photo of because of how dirty the water was. I could tell that there was enough room through the grate that could cause harm to a seal. I had once read that a sea lion died when it got its flipper caught in the filter because there wasn’t a small enough grate to prevent it. I’m a bit concerned over that.

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That is the end of this experience. One that I would deem as one of the worst experiences of my life. On an investigators stand-point, it was sadly successful, as we were able to obtain evidence. However, it was bitter sweet. You never go to investigate a place in hopes of finding problems, you go hoping that you don’t. For the animals sake.

Marineland needs to be shut down. The problem isn’t that it’s still running after decades, the problem is the government. Ontario and Canadian government has nothing to do with zoo and aquarium regulations. There is nothing to protect captive animals, and even less rights to captive cetaceans (whales & dolphins) and pinnipeds (seals, sea lions & walrus). One of the things we can do, it spread the word about how awful places like (and especially) Marineland is. The day is getting closer when aquariums and sea prisons, like Marineland, are not needed. People will stop going because people like myself has spread awareness. We’ve put a lot of our beliefs aside, to go in to gather this information for you.

I did not for one moment, enjoy my time at Marineland. I did NOT go in to the park for enjoyment. I went in there, to get information and visual proof of how horrific this place really is. I am getting criticized for going, but sometimes you have to enter the den of the devil in order to bring him down. I do NOT recommend that every anti-captivity person, or pro-captivity person or indifferent captivity person to visit or do their own investigation. It sucked to be there. I will carry that guilt with me, but I did raise awareness to this place. I’m asking and begging you all, not to go and buy a ticket to Marineland, or any other place alike.

As a protester, anti-captivity advocate, and someone who loves orcas so much, it made me physically sick to be inside this place. I did it for Kiska. My friend, does this for Kiska. If someone doesn’t keep an eye on her, or didn’t go in to investigate, then those photos at the beginning of my blog, of her teeth and blow-hole, would never have made it on to the News. Because of those photos that my friend from Ontario Captive Animal Watch managed to take, Kiska’s story is making a global splash. We are Team Kiska, and that means we want her released to a sea pen to live out her remaining days in the ocean where she was kidnapped, or we would even settle for her to be moved to Sea World. She hasn’t used her vocals in nearly three years. She hasn’t even heard another orca in three years. She has given up. She is a shell of herself now. Living out her days, waiting for the end. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4Y5WHbPxu4#

This October, Marineland will close for the next seven months before re-opening in May of 2015. For Team Kiska, it will be a long seven months, not knowing if she’s alright. If she’s alive or dead. We won’t know anything until opening day. Not knowing whether she’s alive or not, is going to be one of the most painful things we will ever have to endure. Doesn’t mean we will be silent for her. It’s actually time to push forward.

Check out Ontario Captive Animal Watch (OCAW) on Facebook, and learn about what they’re all about. Also check out Fins and Flukes. If you want to help spread the word about Kiska, you have 11-days to help raise money for Mike Garrett’s legal campaign against Marineland, by purchasing a “Free Kiska” t-shirt, http://teespring.com/FreeKiska . Check out his campaign at For donations via GoFundMe please visit: www.mikegarrett.ca or through pay-pal: mikegarrettdefensefund@gmail.com. Also check out http://www.marinelandindepth.com/ for more information. To help former trainer and Marineland whistle-blower, Phil Demers, you can check out savesmooshi.org.

Without people like Mike Garrett, Phil Demers, the wonderful people from Ontario Captive Animal Watch, Fins & Fluke, and Orca United, we wouldn’t be where we are now. We are so close to getting the world aware of the problems with whale and dolphin captivity. So a huge THANK-YOU to them.

Worst Experience of My Life– Marineland, Canada Investigation: Part One

This past weekend, I joined a friend of mine on one of her investigations of Marineland, in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I acted as her second set of eyes, investigating right along side her. Catching things that she may have missed, and also helping her blend in a bit more to the unknowing people who think these places are fun to visit.

Usually I’m on the other side of the fence, protesting against this place. This time, I went on the patron side. It was a strange feeling. One of foreboding and lack of comfort. There was nothing comforting about this place. Not for me, and certainly not for the animals. The last time I was at Marineland was about 7-years ago. I’ve never really liked the place. It started when I was little. I had aspirations of becoming a killer whale trainer, and I had only ever been to Marineland at this point, but even then I wasn’t just going to be any killer whale trainer, I was going to be a Sea World killer whale trainer. Before all the anti-caps freak out, I was under the age of 16 and didn’t know better. It’s a dream that I never full-filled. I had mentioned this to former Sea World trainer, who was featured in the documentary, “Blackfish”, Jeffery Ventre on Twitter and he told me he was glad I never lived my dream. He’s right. I would never been able to handle seeing the truth behind the fantasy that these places provide. I’ve been to Sea World Orlando twice in my life. From first glance, it’s still ten-times the facility that Marineland is. But it’s still a bad place. All captive aquatic facilities are bad places. No matter what, you cannot recreate the space, the depth, or the water in the world’s oceans. For animals as intelligent as killer whales, or Orcas, who travel in their families their entire life time, these places are hell.

From the moment we walked in, I felt betrayal to the animals that I love and respect, but I was there for a reason. I had a purpose. To tell their story. This isn’t my story, and this isn’t about me. Truth be told, I’m someone who believes in freedom. I am an anti-cap. This was the first and last time, I will be going to Marineland, or any place like it, since I took the pledge to “Not Buy A Ticket”. This was strictly business.

We didn’t look at the rides, or think about going on the rides. We put no money into the park that we didn’t have to. We didn’t eat or drink anything sold in the park, we didn’t buy souvenirs. We quickly looked in the one gift shop to see how much educational items were for sale. Sadly, not many. A few books, both in English and in French. That was all that I saw.

Our first stop was to see Canada’s only captive orca. Kiska. Kiska breaks both my friend’s heart and mine. She holds a special place in our hearts that we feel the need to be with her to make sure she knows that she has a lot of people in her corner fighting for her. Us being there, was for her. Kiska has been imprisoned at Marineland since the early 1980’s. She was captured from Iceland at the young age of just 3 years old. She’s now approximately 38 years of age and has spent the last 35 years in captivity. Away from her natural family. Away from her mother. In 1992, Kiska gave birth to her first of five babies. Or calves as baby orcas are called. He was a male, with no name. He died of unknown causes at only 2-months of age. Her second calf, Kanuck, was male. Born August 28th, 1994 and died four and a half years later of Traumatic shock. Nova, another male, died of Pneumonia and starvation at 4-years and 8-months old. Marineland denied his death for months after. Hudson was Kiska’s longest surviving calf. He died at age 6 of meningitis. Her only daughter, Athena, was her last calf. She was sick for two days, and then died. She was age 4 and a half years and died of unknown causes in May of 2009.

Sea World had loaned a male orca named, Ikaika, or Ike, to Marineland for breeding in 2006. Although he and Kiska got along well, they never mated. Sea World had grown concerns over Ike’s mental and physical well-being and began a long custody battle against Marineland, which Sea World won. In 2011, Ike was moved back to Sea World, and Kiska has been alone for the past 3 years.

Today, Kiska floats at the surface of her pool. Slowly swimming the perimeter of her tank. Marineland claims that she’s old and is slowing down. The photos provide a different story. Photos my friend took a few weeks ago showed her dorsal fin in horrible shape. When I messaged Marine Mammologist, Dr. Naomi Rose, pictures of Kiska’s dorsal fin, she said;

This isn’t normal at all (and I don’t think her fin looked like this when I last saw her)- it looks like she’s had some kind of infection that has eaten away at the flesh (some sort of gangrene or leprosy-something that caused necrosis of the tissue, so it actually rotted and come away). And this kind of condition could cause additional collapse of the fin as well…”

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My friend also managed to get disturbing photos of Kiska’s teeth. Because of the conditions of her teeth, Kiska ineligible to be released back into the wild with her family. Her only hope is to be released to a sea pen back in Icelandic waters, to live out the rest of her days with the natural rhythm of the ocean and real ocean water. If it ever gets to that. Her teeth are so bad, and because they drilled the pulp out, she has to go through the painful procedure of flushing. They spray into each tooth, flushing out any fish that may be stuck or lodged in, which can cause infection.

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Even more damaging and concerning photos of Kiska came from these first few trips that my friend, an investigator for Ontario Captive Animal Watch, came away with. This one of Kiska’s blow-hole. Just behind her blow-hole, was a deep depression, which was noted by Dr. Rose last September when she visited Kiska. I sent the photos to Dr. Rose, who said that the depression was worse than it was when she saw Kiska.

She is definitely developing ‘peanut head’, which is the depression behind her blow-hole and is a sign of weight loss. She is not in good shape….The situation is just grim.”

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I hesitated at “Friendship Cove”, stopping by the first pool which was loaded with Beluga whales. Clamoring and acting up for the people laughing and smiling at them. Clearly clueless. We made our way over to Kiska. My friend had warned me that the photos were nothing compared to seeing her in person. She was right. With my camera in front of my face, I held in tears and my shock at the horrendous site I saw. Right away, I saw her dorsal fin.

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She stayed at the surface, moving slowly around her tank. I decided to play an audio clip I had found of Ike’s vocals, which were taken at Marineland during his stay. It took both my friend and I a bit to realize that after we played the vocals, Kiska would move faster around her tank and splash around in the one end. She was agitated by it. A sign that she recognized his vocals. The most active she was the entire time we were there. We spent a long time with Kiska. It was just too hard to leave her. My friend took this picture of Kiska, and the look in her eye is defeat. She’s given up.

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We heard they were planning on feeding her just as soon as they finished feeding the beluga’s on the other side. They were taking a long time, and we could tell Kiska was hungry. They finished feeding the beluga’s and started hovering around my friend and I as we waited for her feeding to begin.

Recently, pictures I showed earlier of Kiska’s teeth and her blow-hole made it to local news and out pouring of support for Kiska came out. Marineland was obviously being cautious about who they fed her around. We were pretty sure we were made. They were waiting for us to leave to feed their orca. We decided that we should leave and see if that was exactly what they were waiting for.

We took off for the underground viewing. Stopping first to check out the Beluga whales. One of the first things we noticed was the bird poop, on the inside of the glass. At least we’re assuming it’s bird poop. We just aren’t sure how it got in there. It’s inside and under water.

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The second thing we noticed was the water and the fecal matter at the bottom of the beluga tank.

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Everything was just disgusting. Also, there was a sign attached to the tank about the leaks.

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I’m not an expert on leaks, but I’m pretty sure leaks just don’t seal themselves. Unless you’re counting on the mold and mildew to seal the leak for you. The leaks were clearly visible, as was the mold and god knows what else.

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We then walked over to Kiska’s side of the underwater viewing, and watched her swim around her tank. My friend commented on how cloudy and dirty it was. You couldn’t see the other side of the tank. Kiska swam around, in dirty, murky water.

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Like the Beluga’s side of the tanks, was a pile of fecal matter and dirt. Chunks of stuff was floating in the water as well.13 Blog photo

Five minutes after we stood and watched Kiska, we noticed her going to the side of the pool where she gets fed and we watched her feed from the under water viewing. After eating she got a belly rub and pectoral fin rub down. See how cloudy and dirty the water was.

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During that time, I could see a leak that was actually active.

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After her rub down, she continued to swim slow laps around her tank. I noticed her tail. It didn’t have the smooth look that other orca’s tail flukes had. Not sure if this is something to look into, or if it’s a normal thing. I will be looking into it that’s for sure.

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There seems to be a lot of nicks, and scratches on her flukes. It makes me wonder if there is a necrosis there as well.

I was overwhelmed by seeing Kiska. I had never seen a captive orca in a sadder state than Kiska. She’s been on my mind so much lately. It breaks my heart to see such a beautiful, intelligent, animal in such a sorry state. I’m sadden by this. She shouldn’t be alone, and she shouldn’t be stuck in this stupid, filthy, dirty bath tub.

After seeing Kiska and her sorry state, we ventured over to the deer pavilion. It’s a place where people with their children can come and go, and interact with Fallow Deer. There’s a little hutch in the middle where you can purchase food for these animals and feed them. First thing I noticed was there was no shade of any kind. It was concrete and sandy-like dirt, and no trees. Second thing I noticed was a small child pulling on the antlers of a poor deer while her father encouraged her to do so, just to take a selfie picture of the three of them. No respect for these animals at all. Third, I noticed there was no visible staff. Just in the hutch selling food. The most disturbing, was the blood splatter we saw all over the ground. It was all dried up but still very noticeable.

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We had so much freedom to take as many photos of the blood soaked ground as we wanted. No one noticed us, because no one was around. At first we couldn’t figure out why there was so much blood everywhere. No effort was made to hose it off. Then we noticed it. Both my friend and I admittedly do not know much about deer and their natural behaviours, so the site we saw was horrific. A deer was rubbing the velvet off of his antlers across the cement. Blood was dripping everywhere, and the smears of blood we had seen just seconds before this event now made sense. The deer was violently and roughly scrapping his antlers across the pavement, banging and scrapping. Blood sprayed out at the force, some landing on my friend’s shoe while she video taped the event. I had never seen anything like this.

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We were ready to call the OSPCA right then and there. She instead posted some photos to her social media page and one of the whistle-blowers who was a former trainer at Marineland, Phil Demers, told her that it was actually normal that the deer do this. We held off on calling the OSPCA, but it didn’t make what we saw any less disturbing. What baffled us, was that no one said a damn thing. No one was shocked by seeing this event happen. We are animal people, and we didn’t know that this was normal, you can’t possibly tell me that everyone in the deer pavilion KNEW that this was normal. Most people who visit these places have the IQ of a turd. I’m sorry, that’s harsh, but true. If you think seeing animals stuck behind bars or in small tanks is happy and wonderful, then you’re an idiot.

I looked into it, and Phil was right. This behaviour of shedding their velvet from their antlers is quite normal. With Fallow deers, they bleed during this process. Shedding of the velvet can occur at any time of the year, but usually it’s done on trees and logs. One thing I fail to understand is the sanitary issues. Is there any disease in fresh deer blood? I personally wouldn’t want my child walking through that and petting deers while they’re in the process. My co-worker agreed with me when I showed him the photos. He didn’t understand why Marineland didn’t segregate the ones who were in their shedding process. Personally, I don’t understand it either.

I wasn’t intending for my blog to be so long, but background and the section on Kiska took up a lot more room than I thought it might. So I’ve decided to make this a two parter. Things don’t get any better at the marine-park from hell. If you decide not to check out part 2, then I’ll say this. Don’t buy a ticket to these places. Especially Marineland. It’s an awful place. I don’t have anything against the staff there, as they are just making money to live on. I don’t believe they have any ill-wishes towards the animals they care for and spend time with. I would love to see a massive walk-out, and leaving John Holer, the owner, high and dry. I fear for the animals in this place. I fear for Kiska. She’s giving up, and she’s not in good shape. Between the park’s closed season, October to May, we won’t know what’s going on with her. If she will even make it through the winter. Those seven months, will be so hard to make it through. We will be holding our breaths come opening day of 2015.

Check out Ontario Captive Animal Watch (OCAW) on Facebook, and learn about what they’re all about. Also check out Fins and Flukes. If you want to help spread the word about Kiska, you have 14-days to help raise money for Mike Garrett’s legal campaign against Marineland, by purchasing a “Free Kiska” t-shirt, http://teespring.com/FreeKiska . Check out his campaign at For donations via GoFundMe please visit: www.mikegarrett.ca or through pay-pal: mikegarrettdefensefund@gmail.com. Also check out http://www.marinelandindepth.com/ for more information. To help former trainer and Marineland whistleblower, Phil Demers, you can check out savesmooshi.org.

Also you can sign this petition to help Kiska:  https://www.change.org/p/ospca-executive-offices-release-canada-s-only-captive-orca-kiska-to-a-sea-pen-or-a-more-appropriate-facility

Thank-you and hopefully you’ll check out part 2.

I Am An Activist…

I am an Activist

By: Sarah J. Sweedland

I may not be perfect, and I know I’ve made some mistakes in my life, but there is one thing that I’ve always truly loved and still love, and those are these amazing incredible creatures out there called, Orcas. Before I even saw one, I knew there was something special. Something magical about this ocean mammal. I could never quite pin-point it. Then again I was seven years old, but I knew that I loved this animal. I have never seen one in the wild. Only in captivity. I can admit, however, that as a small child, seeing them in captivity always made me smile. That was because of the love I had for this animal, and others alike. What I can tell you is that I have never felt good about them being in these small tanks.

There was one point in my life I wanted to be an orca trainer, or a marine biologist. Both dreams I never fulfilled. I’m not sure why. I can tell you that the only regret I have is not fulfilling my dream of being a marine biologist. I certainly have not regrets about never being an orca trainer. Blackfish star, and former orca trainer at Sea World, Jeffery Ventre told me that he was glad I never fulfilled that dream (via twitter–I really wish I had saved that tweet).

My heart belongs to the orcas. These massive, elegant, graceful, intelligent, social and compassionate animal. It always will.

It’s not just orcas I care about. I care about all animals. Nothing pisses me off more than seeing an animal who is hurt or being abused. My focus is mainly on whale/dolphin captivity, but I will always be a voice for animals as a whole.

Recently, I’ve attended two demonstrations outside of Marineland, Ontario’s fence. I say fence because they bought extra land to keep protestors and demonstrators away from their property. It’s quite the humourous thing amongst us anit-caps in the area. It’s not like it’s a brick wall. That would have been more effective I suppose. Still wouldn’t have kept us away. Anyways, both these demo’s were amazing experiences for me. Ones I will never forget. Not only because I’m being an active voice for the animals that I love and respect, but I’m helping four very courageous human beings as well.

Phil Demers, was a former trainer at Marineland. He worked there for 12-years before finally quitting in 2012 because he couldn’t take seeing the state the animals in the park were in. Water quality was so bad that dolphins were swimming with their eyes closed and their skin was falling off. Seals, sea lions and walrus’ were also affected by the poor water quality. Suffering lesions, eye irritations, and a multitude of other health issues. One sea lion was so bad off that when he coughed, his eye lens fell right out of his eye socket. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Phil to leave these animals behind. He was particularly close to a walrus by the name of Smooshi. Their relationship was a special one. Built on a trust, love and friendship. Maybe even a familial bond on Smooshi to Phil. She relied on Phil so much, like he was her parent. Their relationship garnered media attention. To this day, he worries about her. When he left Marineland, he was told that he could come by and see Smooshi whenever he wanted to. But was denied that after he left. Broken promises. Demers, and a group of other former employees came forward through the Toronto Star back in 2012, that exposed all the issues at Marineland. This resulted in outrage from the public; some defending the park, and some against the park. Owner of Marineland didn’t take to kindly to the negative publicity. My guess is because now he was going to have to spend money on fixing the problems before inspectors came through. Phil’s girlfriend, Christine Santos, was the trainer for Kiska, Marineland’s only orca. She was fired two months after the article surfaced, and she too came forward and shortly after was served with a lawsuit for $1.25 million. This resulted in a lawsuit against another former Marineland employee, Jim Hammond (also $1.25 million), Santos, and Demers. Phil is facing a lawsuit from Marineland of $1.5 million. Campaigns have been done to aid the pair in their legal aid. I’m not privy to how much has been raised, and it’s not my business. I hope that they have raised enough to help them out, and if not, we will keep on raising money. They took a chance to expose the problems for the animals sakes. Three unselfish people who took a huge risk.

You can help them out by going to savesmooshi.org

The fourth person, wasn’t an employee of the park, but someone who cares about animal welfare. Mike Garrett is associate with the Marineland In Depth personal opinion blog found online. He is a soldier in the front lines as well. Handing out information about the Niagara Falls tourist attraction. Because he cares about the well-being of these animals, he is now facing a SLAPP suit for $1.5 million dollars. Just for spreading the word. A SLAPP suit is Strategic Litigation Against Public participation. What it is, is that it takes away our freedom of speech. It forces you to amend what you say to the public regarding issues. Restrictions can be placed on the person who is facing the SLAAP suit, about what they can say, or what their protest posters say. It restricts their right to give information to the public about an issue. It undermines our freedom of expression. It’s rich companies, taking aim at people who are speaking up against their company to silence them. It’s the king, cutting the tongue out of a peasant, in a way. Money talks, and the people’s rights get to walk. The owner of Marineland doesn’t fight his own battles, but instead pays a legal team to do it for him. All Garrett did was hand out a piece of paper to some tourist leaving the park, that had information about Marineland on it. All of which can be backed up. Because of that simple task, Mike is now restricted from saying certain words, phrases, or slogans on posters. He has to watch not only what he says, but what everyone else around him are saying and doing while at demonstrations. Marineland have restricted his right to freedom of speech. Because Mike Garrett, is not a selfish person, he’s now facing a detrimental law suit all because he respects, and cares about the animals in that park. A SLAAP suit could happen to any one of us.

http://www.marinelandindepth.com/

For John Hammond, Christine Santos, Phil Demers and Mike Garrett, it happened to them. A price to pay for the selfless act of putting the animals first. I respect all four of them for that. I have done my best to donate to their causes to help them out as my way of saying “thank-you” and I’ve spread the word, and stood by them. I will continue to do so.

I’m an activist because I want justice for the animals that cannot speak. They cannot tell their stories. They can only suffer. For us. I focus on whale and dolphins because you cannot recreate an ocean. The tanks they live in, are simply not big enough. Not deep enough, not wide enough, not long enough. Orcas swim up to 100 miles a day in the oceans. Orcas in captivity would have to do over 9,000 circular laps in their pools to get even close to that. You cannot recreate the ocean tide, and rhythms. You cannot recreate the natural sea water that they belong in. Probably one of the most important, you cannot recreate their family bonds. I may not be educated by a school, but I have spent 27 years teaching myself about these animals. I know a lot for someone who is not a marine mammologist, biologist or any kind of oligist. I am someone who has great respect for these animals. I am someone who wants to see an end to captive whale and dolphins. I want to see them free or retired to a natural sea pen. There is absolutely nothing to be learned now after 50 years of having orcas in captivity. If they haven’t learned anything that will help them adapt by now, when all they’ve done is parish, then they are not going to. It’s time to say the show is over.

One day, I will see these amazing mammals out in the ocean. Watching their tall dorsal fins piercing the silky water as they come up for a breath. That mist from their blow-hole traveling through the air. Seeing the water gliding off their sleek black bodies. I feel that when that day comes, I will truly be at home. For nothing or no one gets my respect like orcas do.

For links to understand more:

Sea World Roundtable debate with Marine Mammal Specialist, Dr. Naomi Rose: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/48470399

My blog on Orcas In Captivity: https://rkodiva80.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/orcas-in-captivity/

You can help out The Marineland whistleblowers at: smooshi.org

You can help out Mike Garrett at: http://www.gofundme.com/3o192g

Also check out these documentaries: Blackfish

The Cove

Fall From Freedom

Lolita: Slave To Entertainment

And this book: “Death At Sea World” By David Kirby

Molly & Kendra: Molly (Book 3 of 3)

Molly’s Story

 

 

Prologue:

The moment when Nick slammed his gun and badge on the Lieutenant’s desk, Eli knew his career would never be the same again. He really wasn’t one for change, unless he was the one behind it. This time the control was no longer in his power. Maybe it never was to begin with. Nick had once voiced his opinion based on the unfairness of their job before, and Eli guessed Nick had made his decision to control his own destiny.

The Lieutenant turned to him and asked, “well, what about you, Savidis?”

The moment Eli looked into the man’s steely gray eyes, he knew there was only one thing he could do. Despite the fact that everything Eli ever did was usually planned out, in great detail, in advance, he was about to vary from his own plan.

Eli stood up removed his gun from his belt, then took his badge from the inside pocket of his jacket. This had to be last nights drinking bender’s influence. He peered at his badge for a few seconds then placed both the items on the Lieutenant’s desk.

Looking into the eyes of Lieutenant Jackson, he smiled, “thank-you for everything sir.” Then turned on the heels of his loafers and left the office.

He returned to his desk to collect the few personal items he had, then headed into the locker room to clean out his locker. Nick was still cleaning out his.

Nick glanced up at him a few times. “I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you before hand. You are my best friend, and I respect you to no end.” Eli listened as he opened his own locker. “To be honest, I didn’t know I was going to do that until after the Lieutenant’s spiel.”

Eli clutched the deodorant stick in his hand he had taken down from the top shelf, “I’m not worried or mad. Sure I was a bit shocked at first, but I get it man.”

Nick continued to eye Eli as he tossed stuff into his gym bag. “What are you doing?”

“Same thing you are. I resigned.” He explained. “After the shock wore off, I remembered what you had said a few days ago about our jobs being in the hands of bureaucrats. Deciding whether we get promoted or demoted, all based on one cases out come. Who said they can juggle our fate around? I don’t see them out there trying their hardest to capture every criminal.” Eli paused to toss in more items. “Every word you said, was right.”

“Eli, seriously, spontaneous isn’t your thing.”

“I know, but this feels right. I have no clue what I am going to do with my days from here on in, but I’m an organized person and I’m smart so I’ll figure it out.

Nick forced a smile. Eli knew the smile was forced because it was one Nick had forced on many occasions, usually during assignments or reprimand. Maybe his friend and partner’s decision wasn’t as well thought out as he thought. Chances are Nick didn’t even think about the financial affect this might have on him. Men never talked about three things; 1) Politics, 2) Religion, and 3) Money.

“You’ll be alright, you know,” Eli paused, “money wise, right?”

“Oh definitely. I know where what goes and when. I’m more than fine.” Nick answered truthfully. “I just never gave much thought about what I’m going to do with myself.”

“Me neither.”

Molly leaned back in her super comfortable desk chair. She sat in the only room in her home that didn’t have colour on the walls. She could always have her father paint it but then again there was a reason for it. Molly needed for this space to be natural lighting for her art. Something she hadn’t really done in a long time.

Her thought process was interrupted by Chewbacca’s obsessive barking. The more she listened to him, the more she knew it was just his excited bark. Boy, did she know her dog. When the barking suddenly stopped she figured it was Kendra, and no sooner had she thought that, did her best friend round the corner. “How did you get him to just stop like that?”

“Easy-peasy.” Kendra plunked down in her usual lime-green chair, “I brought dog cookies.”

“Smart.” Molly got up and walked around her desk, sitting in the other chair opposite of her friend, “have you seen the books?”

“Indeed I have. We are more than golden.” Kendra grinned.

“Thank-God, because I’m so exhausted,” groaned Molly. “I think this calls for a trip to Cabo, don’t you think?”

Kendra sighed, let her head fall back, then smiled as she rolled her head to look at Molly. She took that as a good sign. “Oh Molls, what a kick-ass idea you just had, unfortunately neither of us can indulge in such luxury as a vacation at this current

moment.”

“What?” Molly wasn’t sure she heard her bestie right. Normally it was Kendra who begged for vacation time.

“I have good news and really good news, both are bad news for the Cabo idea, however.” Kendra sat up, crossed her right leg over her left knee. “First the good news, I found us a new, bigger and cheaper office.”

“I’m still not getting it.” Molly admitted.

“If you will, shut your hole for a few, I will get to it.” Kendra responded saucily. “The space includes three small interior rooms, and a waiting-slash-reception area. We would each have our own offices, and the third little room can be for files and junk.” Molly opened her mouth, but Kendra shushed her, “it is in a brand new office building and the rent is actually the exact same we were paying at dumps-ville, but because of the size of the space we are getting, it works out to be cheaper.”

“I’m not too sure about this. How can the rent be cheaper for a large space?” Molly questioned.

“They just want to fill up the space with a variety of small, local businesses.” Kendra took a breath before continuing on. “Someone at the Police station apparently knows the property manager there, and had said that we were looking.”

“So they put the word in.” Molly was slowly getting it, “how much do you wanna bet that it was probably Nick and Eli?”

“So not taking that bet. The owner came to us. There was a message on the business line when I checked it earlier.”

Molly picked at her cuticles, “did you go and take a look?”

“I did, and I tried calling you but there was no answer.”

“Oh I was out doing food shopping.”

The two girls pretty much had decided to leave their old office the moment the crime scene tape had come off their door. Not to mention the blood stain in the hardwood where Marissa Marceno was shot, after she tried to kill the both of them. The place didn’t hold that good of “mo-jo” as Kendra said.

“Well, that’s great. We can go to Cabo after we get settled in.” Kendra shook her head, “no? Why?”

“We just got like thirty phone messages on the business line from potential clients asking for help. I’m afraid we are going to be really busy for a while.”

Molly loved those words, but right now she really wanted a holiday. Still this was great news. The news of the incoming business and the fact that they still had enough in the business account, she got an idea. “Would there be enough in the budget to hire a receptionist?”

Kendra leaned back in the chair, her brain working. Molly could smell the rubber burning. She almost laughed out loud at the thought but kept it to herself. “With the money coming in from these cases, we could probably afford a part-time receptionist. We will need help in the office. Someone to answer the phones and assign cases to us.”

Molly smiled. “How about Hailey? She would be perfect, and she’s looking for something part-time since her work place cut her hours.”

Kendra’s lips drew up in a slow grin, “perfect. She’s family, and we trust her. Plus we don’t have to interview hundreds of people for the job who would suck.”

They high-fived. Business was great!

Chapter 1:

Molly helped her sister, Hailey get settled into her desk in the freshly painted reception area of the new offices of Diva Private Investigators. With the room painted a bright pink, with black leather sofa and chairs and a retro shaped black coffee table, which matched the retro style desk where Hailey now sat. The office was feminine and cool. Molly’s sister had a huge smile on her face as she sat in the comfortable desk chair that Kendra found for her.

“Are you sure you want to work with us?” Molly asked.

Hailey looked up at her sister, “absolutely. I think that this should be a blast.”

Molly picked up her poodle mug and took a sip of coffee. Her mug matched the retro pink and black colour scheme of the office. Her office was just down the hall and on the left. After asking her sister that if she needed anything, and Hailey assured her that she was fine, Molly walked down the hall to her office.

Both hers and Kendra’s offices were not overly huge, but enough room for a set of book shelves, two comfy chairs in front of their new desks, and a filing cabinet. Molly varied from her usual favourite colour of pink in favour of a bright retro blue walls and carrying on with black as her accent. Although she wasn’t a huge fan of blue, she still loved the way her office felt.

She leaned back in her chair and put her feet up on the glass top of her desk, and drank her coffee. There was a pile of cases, three of which were priority over some of the other cases. Molly was happy to see that more than just adultery cases had come through. Since she was much better with numbers than Kendra was, she took three insurance fraud cases to look over. Kendra was out on a case too busy to confer with over which one she thought was the most important. Molly was more than capable of picking and choosing her own cases but sometimes a fresh set of eyes help.

Sitting up straight, Molly placed her coffee mug down, out of harms way since she knew she would likely spill it. The first folder was a local case that would be easy to solve. Fortunately she knew the people involved and knew that they would answer her questions honestly. Next case seemed highly unlikely, but it was in Kennebunkport, about forty-five minutes away from Glenberry. Phony paper trail for medical insurance. She decided, after reading the third file, that she was taking the Kennebunkport case, and it might just end up as a small mini-vacation.

Molly picked up phone on her desk and dialed Kendra’s cell phone and waited for her to pick up.

“Morgan,” she answered.

“Well, how professional of you.” Molly laughed. “Got a question for you.”

“Shoot, what’s up?” Kendra asked.

Molly leaned back in her chair, and put her legs up on her desk again. If Kendra saw her, she’d freak as they would leave marks on the glass. “Could you take Chewbacca for a few days?”

“Sure.” There was a pause, “why?”

“I’m taking the medical insurance fraud case in Kennebunkport, and I figure I’ll just stay there.” Molly explained. “I doubt I’ll be there too long.”

“I figured you would take that case. You probably can get away with expensing it for tax write-off since it’s for work. Check with Artie, he’ll be able to tell you for sure.” Kendra suggested.

Artie was their accountant, and he was kind of cute for a nerd, although Molly had a soft spot for the nerd-type, Artie was married, so apparently someone else had a soft spot too. “Good idea. I’ll call him now, if not I’m sure it’s no big deal to just stay anyways.”

“Don’t worry about Chewy, he and Hardy can hang out together.” Kendra hung up and Molly looked up Artie’s phone number. Within minutes he told her that she could indeed expense the hotel as part of the job, but not the food. Molly could care less, a few lobster dinners were not going to make her go broke.

She walked out of her office and into the reception area with Hailey. Her sister looked bored. “Not so exciting, is it?”

“There certainly is a lot of waiting. I already separated a pile of cases for you and Kendra to go through, and the phone has yet to ring.” Hailey placed her elbows on the desk and leaned on them. “Kendra is apparently expecting her client to check in today some time. She told me that this woman is a piece of work.”

Molly laughed. She remembered Mrs. Lombard. She was a bleach blonde, trophy wife with a squeaky voice and was worried that her husband was cheating on her with a man. So far Kendra had come up with nothing, but this woman keeps calling and keeps insisting that her husband, some old guy with money is keeping a boy toy around. The only thing Kendra found was that Mr. Lombard wasn’t the only one keeping a boy toy, and she had no proof that he was keeping one. But Mrs. Lombard was. Kendra hated the case but as long as the wife kept paying her she would look every where, even inside an elephants asshole, as Kendra once described. Yes, her best friend was indeed a colourful one.

“You wouldn’t believe it, until you saw it.” Then Molly explained the wife to her sister, and Hailey sat there laughing. “I’m telling you, we get more cases involving either the trophy wife coming in insisting that her old rich husband is cheating, or the old rich husband comes in and insists that his 21-year old trophy wife is cheating. I want to tell

them, duh!, but you can’t.”

“Guess I better learn not to say what I’m thinking, huh?” Hailey smiled. Molly grinned back. “So did you figure out a case?”

“I did, and I was coming out here to ask you to make me a reservation for four days at the Port Inn on The Water in Kennebunkport. I’m gonna stay there for at least four days to work this case.” Molly handed Hailey the businesses credit card to charge the expense. “I checked with Artie, there is more than enough on here to charge the reservations.”

“Sure thing. Any requests while your there? A massage maybe?”

“Don’t get saucy with me sis.” They laughed. “Anyways, if you need anything you can reach Ken on her cell. I’m going to go drop off Chewy at her place and then head out.”

“Drive carefully. Hey do you need me to work tomorrow since you both will likely be out of the office?” Hailey asked.

“Probably but ask Ken when you see her. I know it’s a PD day from school, so if you need to bring the kids, they can play on my computer in my office.” Molly informed her. “See you when I get back.”

It took three months for Eli to figure out what he was going to do, but he was ready and already had a case of his own. Working out of his apartment for now, since he was just trying to lay low, Eli put the word out to his police friends that he was now officially a licensed private investigator. His first client was coming to talk to him this morning. He quickly put on a pot of coffee and set up his living room so that the potential client would be more comfortable. It may sound silly to anyone else, but this ex-cop was nervous as hell. He was inspired by Molly, but he didn’t want to compete with her or Kendra for clients. If he felt the job wasn’t for him, he was going to suggest them.

When he left the department, he and Nick had no clue what to do with themselves, but he was surprised that when he suggested doing the private investigator thing, Nick said no. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to but more of because he didn’t want to right now. He missed his mother and wanted to visit with his family and take a holiday before jumping into anything. The only thing that Nick said he would do when he returned would be to get his private investigator’s license and the two of them would work together. So that was that. Nick took off and Eli had no idea when he would be back.

At eleven, his client arrived, nice and prompt, something Eli appreciated. George Hollingsworth, was about fifty years old and looked good for his age. His hair was kept short but had specks of gray at the temples. He was of average height and in good shape.

As he talked to Eli about his mother, Evis, he was upset. A good sign for an ex-cop. George wouldn’t be a likely suspect in the mother’s disappearance.

“She’s been gone for about three months. I called the police and they have put out bulletins for a missing woman in her eighties, but nothing has come up.” George explained.

“When was the last time you saw or spoke to your mother?” Eli asked.

George looked to the right, trying to remember, “I would have to say around Labour day. That week she had a doctor’s appointment but apparently she canceled it.”

“Why would she cancel her appointment?”

“I haven’t a clue. When I called to see if she showed up, they said she called and canceled. They said she never gave a reason except that she was feeling better.” George explained. “She drives still, you don’t suppose she got confused and ran her car off the road somewhere?”

“Doubtful Mr. Hollingsworth. They would have found her by now.” Eli wrote every detail, as well as ran a tape recorder in case he missed any thing. “Is there any place that she may have gone to for care before her appointment?”

Again, he looked to his right. “Not that I can think of. She mentioned a walk-in clinic, but I told her to wait and see her regular doctor.”

“Can I get you to write down all her doctor’s information, number and address for me, and if you can allow me access to her home, that would be great. I’ll get you to fill out a form so that I can enter to search.” Eli opened a folder and pulled out some sheets, “if you’re not comfortable with me going around your mother’s place, you are more than welcome to come and supervise or I can get the police to come and search with me. It’s up to you.”

“I’ll sign it, if you’ll just let me know when you go and search, that should be more than enough.” George wrote down all the information that Eli asked of him, handed him a key to his mother’s house, and signed all the papers. “I never did ask how much your fee is.”

“No worries, I’m not charging too much, probably just some expenses.” Eli gave him a number and then said that half up front is fine, and the other half when he finishes the case. “I’m hoping I can wrap up the mystery in a few days for you. Missing a love one for as long as you already have is tough. I will try my best to make this as easy as possible on you.”

“I really appreciate it. Thank-you so much.” George shook his hand and Eli showed him down to the lobby of his building.

Looked like Eli was off to Kennebunkport, to look into the disappearance of Evis Hollingsworth. With any luck, Eli would make it there by two in the afternoon. First he needed to call some of his police contacts in the small town. He wanted to let them know he was hired and would stay out of their way. What he found out was, they were doing nothing about the case and told him to go nuts if he wanted to. As a former police detective, their words pissed him off. No wonder most people hated the police.

The rain was pounding the roads outside, and the wind had picked up some as Molly dragged her suit cases with her up to the front desk. The hotel was one of the best ones in Kennebunkport. With high beams, wide plank hardwood flooring that creaked when you walked in certain places. Large windows, oak detailing along the floor boards and the doors were heavy solid oak as well. The place held five-hundred guests, and sat near the water front. As beautiful as it was to be able to see the Atlantic ocean just outside your bedroom window, it brought in heavier winds and harder rain than being a bit more inland like where she was from. Still, Molly loved Kennebunkport. It was her favourite place to be. She had tons of memories from her childhood here. Her parents used to take her to the small town every summer for a few weeks. It was expensive to even rent a cottage for a weekend, but since her family didn’t travel much when she was younger, it was the splurge for all of them.

Right now, she was soaked to the bone, and freezing. It was November after all, and the rain could turn into snow at any time. She really hoped it held off. Just one time she would love to sit on the beach, whether it was cold or not.

Carefully she wiped her feet on the mat at the front door and then headed in. She waited her turn in line while some guy at the desk was trying to get a room without a reservation. Molly wasn’t close enough to hear much of it but she knew that he didn’t have a reservation since Hailey secured her the last one. Thankfully. There was a huge conference in the area and pretty much every hotel was filled to capacity.

The back of his head looked vaguely familiar. The man had short, yellowy-blonde hair and it stuck up in the front, from the looks of it. He was wearing a rough looking brown leather jacket, one that didn’t like the rain, and jeans that cupped his nice ass. He wore Adidas on his feet and had computer bag hanging from his left shoulder, and a suitcase on rollers at his feet. As Molly re-scanned the man in front of her, she landed on his ass in those jeans. The jeans were faded in all the right places, but she knew that ass from somewhere.

The man nodded at the hotel clerk, and turned around. Eli Savidis. She hadn’t seen him since the Marceno case ended. He fiddled with something in his wallet and then looked up. His blue eyes locked in with her own. A slow, smile, curved his lips to the one side. God he was gorgeous, she thought to herself.

He slowly walked towards her, “I hope you have a reservation because this place is booked solid.”

“What no hello? No, how’s it going?” Molly retorted.

“I was getting there.” Eli reached out for her, and soon she found herself in his arms. “Hello, Molly.”

“Hi Eli. What are you doing here?” She asked against his shoulder. He smelled of leather and of rain.

“Working. You?”

“Working.”

“Like I said sweetie, I hope you have a reservation.” Eli’s smile fell. He could sense her coolness towards him.

When Eli turned around and saw Molly standing there, he nearly dropped his wallet. He may have been roomless, and had to sleep in his car, but he was shocked, and very happy to see Molly. Except she looked shocked and pissed to see him.

“I have a reservation. I got the last one this morning.” She informed him. “If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to get settled and started in on my case.”

Any minute now she’ll figure out that he said he was working. She’ll realize he has no jurisdiction in Kennebunkport and will…

Molly turned around, “what do you mean work? You don’t have any jurisdiction here.”

“Not as a cop, no I wouldn’t have jurisdiction here. Except I am no longer a cop.” He then explained to her that both he and Nick resigned and he started working as private investigator as a trial run. He explained that Nick just took off to see his family then travel a bit.

Eli could see that Molly was in a bit of shock after his news. Her mouth kept on opening and closing like a fish. “That’s nice of you.”

“What now?”

“Trying to steal our business. Thanks a lot. And after all we did for you and Nick.” Molly was indeed upset.

“Actually, I’m not trying to steal your business. I have referred a bunch of people to you guys because the cases didn’t interest me. And I’m assuming you are on the medical insurance fraud case that I suggested to the company to bring to you.” Eli explained. Her smile fell.

“That was you?” Eli nodded. “Thanks, I guess. Anyways, I need to go.”

“Molly, dear,” Eli began.

“Oh that doesn’t sound promising.”

“I have a favour to ask you.” Molly put her hands on her hips. “By chance does your room have two beds?”

“It does, and no!”

Eli walked over to her, pulled her hands into his, pasted on his cute look, and went for it. “Please, I really don’t want to sleep in my car and freeze to death. That storm is getting worse. Pretty please? After all you wouldn’t be here without me.”

“I hate you.”

Chapter 2:

The look on Molly’s face when he used the old “you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me” trick, was priceless. Her eyes bugged out at first but then retreated back into her head just in time for her to do her squinty look as she said she hated him. Now, he could feel here eyes bore into the back of his head as he carried their bags to their room.

Of course Eli didn’t have to carry the bags to their room, there were bell-boys who could do that for them, but he insisted. He needed to stay on her good side. He figured he would even pay for her meals, since she told him that the room had already been expensed to her business. It really was the least he could do.

“Here’s your room sir and miss.” The bell-boy stated, “would you like me to open it for you?”

Molly stepped forward, “no thank-you, we can manage.” She handed him five-dollars and took the key from the skinny young man.

The bell-boy nodded gratefully and took off down the hall. Eli watched while Molly opened the door. She sure was going slow enough, and her bags were heavy. She was staying for four days but packed like she was staying a month.

Once she had the door open, she entered first, nearly closing the door on Eli and his three-tons of luggage. When he finally got in, he almost knocked her over as she just stopped dead in the middle of the entry way.

“Molls, you could move in a little, after all I am carrying a humpback whale’s weight worth of your luggage.” Eli wittingly remarked.

“Um,” was all she managed.

Eli go the door closed after fighting with his own wheelie bag, which got stuck. He turned and saw the king sized bed. The only bed. “Oh,” the bags which weren’t attached to his neck, dropped to the floor with a thud.

“This isn’t happening.” Molly stated, clearly not amused. “I asked for two doubles.”

“Anticipating this happening, huh? Bunking with me?” He paused, “looks like they gave you the double and a half instead.” Molly stormed over to the phone on the night stand to the left of the bed, and went to pick it up. “Molly, the hotel is full. They can’t change our room. For now we will have to live with this. They said they would call me in here if another room opens up.”

“Then you can sleep on the floor Eli.” Molly retorted as she slammed the phone down.

“Sweetie, I would love to sleep on the floor, but on account of my,” he paused, “well, butt, I can’t. I need a soft surface.”

Molly leaned her head back and looked up at the ceiling, “why me? Who the hell did I piss off in my former life?”

“Honey, I doubt…”

“Eli, please stop with the endearments, you are just making me want to vomit on you.” Molly snapped.

“Ah, please don’t. This jacket is Nick’s and these are my favourite pair of runners.” Eli pleaded.

“That jacket’s Nick’s?” She asked.

“No, I just said that to stop the potential vomit you planned on aiming my way.” He paused, as she picked up a pillow and threw it at him. “Listen, we can make this work. I’ll call down to the front desk and ask for more pillows, and then I can make a Berlin.”

“What’s a Berlin?” Molly slowly asked.

Eli explained that it’s a pillow wall in the middle of the bed, which would allow them their own space on separate sides of the bed. “It’s more effective then the classic blanket-on-the-string wall.”

She waved a carefree hand in the air, “fine, you make it, but make sure that it’s under the blankets. Anything above could shift easier.”

“Was planning on it.”

Molly shot him a dirty look and plopped one of her five suitcases on the left side of the bed. She proceeded to use all the hangers in the closet, even hanging up jeans and t-shirts, stuff that would normally go inside a dresser drawer. After even she ran out of hangers, Molly just plunked a pile of folded clothes on top of the dresser instead of inside of one of the drawers. She then disappeared into the bathroom, with two smaller bags.

Eli glanced around the room. White wainscoting, went half way up, and light blue paint finished off the rest of the wall, topped with a blue and white border with flowers on it. The wood in the furniture was an antiqued white washed, and the king sized bed was dressed in frilly whites and blues. Looked like some colonial princess threw up in the room. At least it was blue, he thought to himself.

He opened up his bag, and transferred his clothes that belonged in a dresser, to the drawers, then called the front desk for those extra pillows and extra hangers for his clothes. Within five minutes, four pillows and about six hangers arrived and he finished up hanging his clothes. As he hung up the last of his shirts, Molly came out of the

bathroom.

“Where did you get more hangers?” She asked as she folded her arms across her chest.

“Asked for them when I called about the pillows. Are you done in the bathroom?” Eli explained.

“You could have got me some more.”

“Molly, you call for more. Your fingers aren’t broken. But in all honesty, you have a lot of clothes hung up in that closet, that do not require hangers, but could go in the drawers.” Eli stated.

“I like the accessibility of the closet. Saves on time.”

“How?”

“I don’t have to waste time opening up drawer after drawer, then rummage through a bunch of clothes until I find what I want.” She flopped down on a powdered blue arm chair.

“Either way, if you want more hangers, then you can call down for more.” Eli walked into the bathroom with his shave kit, and bag of toiletries. Molly’s make-up and hair products covered every available space on the counter top. “Too lazy to open a drawer to draw that perma-scowl on your face.” He muttered to himself.

He pulled open the top drawer to put his stuff inside, but was put off momentarily as feminine products exploded all over him. Raining down a multitude of coloured packages. “FUCKER!!!”

Molly smiled to herself. Must have been the drawer with the few pads and Tampons she placed inside, but that obscenity coming from Eli was a bit overkill.

The door flew open, and Eli stormed out, and Molly had to chew on her cuticle to stop from laughing as he kicked a large over-night maxi-pad into the room. Maybe it was a bit more than a few.

“I know you are mad at me for horning in on your room, but a flying tampon just nearly poked my eye out. Was an exploding drawer of monthlies really necessary?” He calmly asked,

Molly couldn’t hold it in any longer and let out a huge cackle. She was proud that she remembered the trick about the exploding drawer that her four male cousins taught her. They would be so proud. “Monthlies?”

“Molly,” he warned sternly.

“Alright, I’ll pack them in my suitcase.” Molly got up off the chair and re-packed all the feminine products.

“While you are in there, you could put all your make-up and hair shit in a drawer please, there’s no counter space.”

He sounded pissed off now, and even though she usually argued her right, she chose not to this time. She opened one of the three white wicker drawers and put her stuff inside. Curious, she opened the middled drawer and found his stuff neatly organized, complete with his own cup for rinsing after brushing his teeth.

When Eli got mad, it sort of reminded her of her father. Molly’s dad would sit her down and calmly talk to her about why he was upset or what she did to warrant his disapproval. The look in his eyes was always worse. Eli looked at her with annoyance and for some reason that struck her strange that she cared enough about what he thought. When Molly came out of the bathroom, the clothes she left on top of the dresser were gone. Most likely inside a drawer.

He sat with his back to her, at one of the desks, and he was looking at stuff on his lap top. She said nothing.

Molly settled in and opened her own lap top on the desk near his. She wanted to find out any information on the walk-in clinic she was investigating. There wasn’t too much information available. Their website was basic at best. Showing a large picture of an old home, with the clinic times and the names of the staff. Two doctors, both Liebers and two nurses, also Liebers. Warning bells went off inside her head. Why did this sound like an episode of the Twilight Zone?

“How does an eighty-one year old woman, who uses a walker, just vanish?” Eli spoke, breaking Molly’s thought process, which was nothing more than The Addam’s Family theme song going through her head.

“I haven’t the foggiest. Maybe she fell and couldn’t get up?” She smiled.

Eli chuckled, “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“Listen, if I wrap my case up quickly, I can help you on yours if you want it.” Molly offered. She highly doubted he would accept her offer.

“Sounds good. And if I finish up early, I can do the same for you.”

“Deal!” Good he wasn’t scary anymore. “I think I’m going to head out and check out this clinic.”

Eli’s head snapped up, “wait!”

Molly froze as she put her messenger bag over her head, “what’s up?”

“What’s the name of the clinic?” Eli asked as his eyebrows were creasing together like a Neanderthals.

“The Lieber House Walk-In Clinic, over on Beach Front avenue.” She answered.

“Can you please let me know if the name Evis Hollingsworth pops up at anytime during your investigation?” He politely asked.

“Sure thing, since you asked me so nicely. I will call you later.”

“Um, wait.” Eli stood up, and grabbed her cell phone from her hand. “I changed my number after leaving the department since the number I had was department issue.” He changed his number in his cell. “Yours still the same?”

“Yeah it is.” Armed with his new cell phone number, she left to check out the Addam’s family.

Eli let himself inside Evis Hollingsworth’s beach house. It smelled very damped and musty, and a think layer of dust covered the surfaces. Including the plastic protective couch cover. Old people and their plastic coverings. Just before arriving he called George to let him know that he was heading over and promised to call him when he left.

He flipped a light switch, but nothing happened, and when he looked over at the stove, the clock was out. If she had been missing for three months, her hydro being off made sense. Eli opened the refrigerator and was immediately assaulted with the pungent odor of rotten food. “Yuck!”

Eli then checked her phone out, oddly that was still working. With permission from her son, he pushed play on her answering machine. Most of the messages were from her son, some from angry creditors, a few telemarketers, her denturist, her doctor and some guy with a thick foreign accent telling her she won a free trip for two to Bermuda. Eli made quick copies of the messages to go over later more closely. He continued to look around, no sign of a computer, which made perfect sense because most elderly people didn’t use computers. He checked through her mail, which was piled high at her front door. Again there were tons of past due notices, except her phone bill. There were two phone bills. Eli tore the envelopes open, and looked at the bills. They were receipts for payment.

“Thank-you for signing up on our on-line billing plan,” he read. “On-line? This makes no sense.” Eli pocketed the bills and the rest of the mail. He would need to trace the account number and find out who is paying this woman’s phone bill, but nothing else. Something seriously was wrong here, and he was bound to bet to figure out what it was. His gut told him, that this wasn’t going to end well for his first case.

Chapter 3:

Molly walked into the Lieber House Walk-In Clinic without a plan. She knew she needed to scope the place out but wasn’t sure where to start. So she just walked in. The place was full of patients despite the fact that it was five minutes to five o’clock. Closing time. Her acting skills weren’t nearly as passable as Kendra’s, but then again, Kendra poured it on thick most of the times. But still, she lied better than Molly.

The waiting room, was probably the old living room of the large house. It was like a mansion, complete with wrap around porch, white picket fence and a huge American flag hanging out front. Inside the foyer, the floors were wooden, but the waiting room was wall to wall carpeting. A Berber carpeting that muffled the sounds of the walkers, but really wasn’t practical for wheel chairs. The ceilings were really high, and the walls still looked like they had the original wallpaper on from thirty or forty years ago. It was peeling in some places. There was an eclectic collection of sofa’s and chairs throughout the room. Two antique desks, sat at the sides of the entry way, opposite of each other. With two identical twin nurses. One with the name tag which read, Rona Lieber, and the other’s read Lona Lieber. How cute, Molly thought to herself. The twins had to be in their fifties, and both kept their hair in a loose bun, which reminded her of Mrs. Ingles from Little House On the Prairie, only instead of blonde, theirs were a mixture of salt and pepper, but mostly salt. Judging from their last names, both were unmarried. It said on the website that the business was ran by four siblings, and there names were listed on the site. On their desks, they kept an old ledger where Molly assumed they kept their appointments and stuff. How, ancient.

Molly looked over at Lona Lieber, and noticed that she was dealing with the patients who were leaving the clinic, so she walked over to Rona Lieber.

“May I help you dear?” Rona Lieber asked. Molly thought she sounded like she was in her seventies than her fifties. For all Molly knew, she probably was.

“Um, yes, I was wondering if either of the doctors took actual patients, or if it was just strictly walk-ins?” Molly asked.

“Technically they take strictly walk-ins, but we get at lot of repeat business here. Most of our clientèle are of the older generation and they like to stick with who they know.” Nurse Rona Lieber looked her up and down. “We don’t get many younger people in here.”

“May I ask why is that?”

“Oh certainly dear, they prefer to have a regular doctor and usually wait for their own instead of popping into a walk-in. But we have been here for a really long time and I can say that we see a few young people. May I ask why you are interested?”

Molly looked down at her feet before thinking of something to say. Finally something hit her, “well I am moving here very soon. In fact I’m staying at a local hotel

until my home is ready, and I am having a hard time finding a doctor who will accept new patients.”

Rona slipped on her glasses which hung on a chain around her neck, “I understand that completely. I will tell you what I can do.” She paused and flipped through her ledger. “I can book you in tomorrow to have a consultation with Dr. Harold Lieber, he’s my brother you know. While there, talk to him about your problem and maybe he can help you better than I can.” The nurse stopped, her pencil hovering over her page, “what is your name, sweetheart?”

“Molly. Molly Savidis. I just got married and my new identification hasn’t come through yet.”

“Not a problem, all we will need tomorrow is either cash or an insurance card.” She explained.

Molly nodded, “not a problem. Thank-you so much.”

“We will see you tomorrow at eleven-fifteen.”

She said her thanks and then headed out to her car. The spooky old women and the smell of the house that the walk-in clinic set Molly’s teeth on edge. There was just something about that house that gave her the creeps. Molly decided that she would talk Eli into coming with her tomorrow and play her husband. Just so she can get a second opinion. She picked up her cell phone before pulling out of the small parking lot, but thought better of it. Her call to Eli would wait until she was out visibility. Her gut was telling her she was being watched.

Eli hung up the phone with Molly who seemed generally spooked. He told her to hurry up and get back to the hotel and they would go to dinner and discuss their cases. Then he had to go through all of Mrs. Hollingsworth’s mail. There just had to be something there.

He typed up the information on the phone bill and tried to hack into the account. Only problem was, he wasn’t good with computers. Not as good as Nick is. Against Eli’s better judgment he picked up his cell phone and called his former partner.

“Eli, what’s up?” Nick greeted.

“I am working on a case and I need your mad skills at computer work. Got a minutes?” Eli asked.

“Yes, a few.” Eli went on to explain his dilemma about the account to Nick. “I’m not good at talking people through this, but if you give me what you have in terms of numbers, I can probably get this done for you by midnight.”

“Seriously buddy, that would help me out big time. I need to know why this account is being paid on-line when this old woman doesn’t own a computer.” Eli said.

“Couldn’t her son be paying it on-line for her?” Nick questioned.

“I suppose he could but I am pretty sure he would have said as much, plus why just pay the one bill for his mother and not the other’s?” He wondered.

“Good point. I’ll see what I can get for you. With any luck, before you turn in tonight, I’ll have what you need. If you don’t hear from me tonight, means I have nothing for you yet. But I will.” Nick explained. “Where are you anyways?”

“Port Inn On the Water in Kennebunkport, room 144. It’s registered under Kendra’s name.” Eli related the information.

“Wait, what?” Nick chuckled, “is there something you’re not telling me?”

“Yeah, talk to you later when you’ve got my information. Bye Nick.” Eli hung up before more questions could be asked.

Eli had just hung up the phone when the phone rang again, expecting it to be Nick, he almost said something snarky, but it wasn’t. He was glad he kept it professional because it was his client. After explaining about not finding out anything at the time, he did ask George Hollingsworth some questions about his mother’s billing system. And just as expected George explained that his mother did everything via checks. He hung up from that phone call and ran his hand through his hair, making it stick up on weird angles. All the information was starting to make his eyes cross.

The door to his room flew open and Molly stormed in, not angry or pissed like earlier, but more anxious. She was a welcome distraction. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who raked his hands through his hair, because it looked like Molly was doing the same. And she smelled of cigarette smoke. A smell he never smelled on her before.

“Did you just have a smoke?” Eli asked.

She flopped down on the bed, arms splayed to her sides. “Yes I did. I haven’t smoked in two years, but there was something that has compelled me to light up today.” Molly exhaled a huge breath, “and I regret it big time.”

“Where are the cigarettes?”

“In my car.” She finally managed to sit up. Her burgundy blouse gaping somewhat between the buttons, allowing him to get a peek at her black lace bra underneath. “You look like I feel, need a smoke?”

Eli had to really think about his answer to her simple question, he too, hadn’t

smoked in a few years, but he could see her point. “Yes, yes I do.”

She got up and held her hand out to him. Eli took it and the petite Molly pulled him to his feet. He staggered behind her as she pulled him from their hotel room and down the elevator. “So here’s the plan, we grab the smokes from my car, and then head to the beach because the rain has stopped and I need to see sand.”

Who was he to argue? He followed her out to her car and then together they walked against the wind, down boardwalk stairs to the wet sand of the beach that was by their hotel. He stopped her from going further and helped her light two cigarettes. “These are really bad for our health, you know?” He said jokingly as he handed hers over.

“Good thing I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow with Dr. Harold Lieber, and you my husband will be joining me.” She spewed forth her information.

“So this is what this is, huh?”

“Huh, what?”

“You lure me outside and bribe me with a cigarette then get me in the midst of a romantic walk on the beach, and then drop the bomb about tomorrow and our marriage on me.” Eli smiled his cute half smile.

“Yeah pretty much. I needed a cover so I came up with one in case they wanted identification.”

“Well darling, I hate to break this to you, but married couples have identification too.”

“Duh,” she play slapped him on the chest, “I know that. I told her that we just got married and I haven’t received my new ones yet.”

The wind blew his blue buttoned down shirt up under his jacket, “pretty good cover actually. So where do I come in?”

“I know we said that we would help each other out after we were done with our own case, but I just have one teensy-weensy favour to ask of you.”

“To go with you because you’re scared?” He reached up and tucked a much longer strand of blonde hair behind her ear. Last time he saw her, her hair hadn’t been this long. It was sitting just past her shoulder blades now.

“Yes.”

“Well at least your honest.” Eli laughed. He hooked his arm around her shoulder and proceeded to walk on the wet sand, trying to smoke in the wind.

Together they walked a while in silence, still attached together, but both had given up smoking. The wind was just too strong, and neither was really enjoying it. Just before they walked up the steps of the boardwalk, Eli suggested going to get dinner, which Molly quickly agreed.

As they walked into a local lobster joint, Molly felt Eli’s hand leave hers. It wasn’t until just that moment that she realized he was holding her hand the entire time. Instead of taking the car, they had walked from the hotel to the Bait Shop, the restaurant they were standing in, waiting to be seated. Holding his hand was so natural. Maybe it was because she spent all that time a few months ago, doing just that at a party which almost got her and Kendra killed in the end. She tilted her head up to look up at his profile. That same blonde stubble covering his chin and cheeks, that same hair sticking up in different directions, but she realized she missed him.

They had to wait to be seated so Eli directed her to the bar and held out a stool for her to hop up on. Since she wasn’t short, there was no need to hop up. He sat down next to her, smelling of the sea air.

“You never answered my question?” She said amongst the noise of the bar.

“What’s that?” He smiled.

“Will you come with me tomorrow?”

Eli took her hand, “count me in.” She smiled back at him, and then he ordered drinks for them. “Can I get a Coors light for me please, draft, and a long island iced tea for the lady, please?”

“Coming right up.” The bartender said and then took off to get their drinks.

“Long Island iced tea?”

“I know you drink iced tea a lot, was I wrong to order it?” Eli asked. She shook her head and smiled again. “Next time I’ll ask what you feel like.”

“Thanks. I just hope you’re not trying to get me drunk.” Molly said slyly.

“Would a few Long Island’s do it?”

“Not a few, just one. I’m a cheap date.” She laughed.

“Boo-ya! That means I like it!” He laughed with her.

Once seated, Eli allowed her to order her own food, which Molly appreciated, although he already knew what she was planning on having. Lobster. She had been dying for a good lobster dinner. It wasn’t like she couldn’t make her own at home but she wasn’t good at it and basically her cooking skills were limited to boiling or microwaving

a hot dog. He had the same but substituted his baked potato for fries, and she did the same only for potato skins.

They cracked and slurped butter in relative silence. Smiling and laughing when the other slurped too loudly. Once his lobster was done, which was long before Molly finished her own, he started to talk again. Telling her about his case and how this woman had no computer, but somehow her telephone bill was being paid on-line. He shared with her that he had called Nick to help with finding who set the on-line billing up, and where it was being paid from. He shared details of his case and she shared what she had on hers. Which was nothing.

“All I know, is that apparently there is some serious insurance fraud going on in this place but all I can chop it down to is the fact that their book keeping system is as ancient as the house. So it’s likely just error.” She voiced as she buttered up a potato skin.

“You could very well be right, but your gut was telling you something the moment you walked into the place. Trust your gut Molls.” He added more ketchup on to his fries.

“The place smelled like bleach and every other cleaning product under the sun. It reeked. And all those old people, looked like they should be in a hospital or a hospice some place.” Molly placed a skin her mouth and closed her eyes. It was so good. When she opened her eyes, Eli was starring at her. “What?”

“Nothing, just you enjoying your food.” He smiled.

She smiled back at him since he had a bit of ketchup on his upper lip. Molly reached across the table, and used her index finger to wipe off the ketchup. The touch of his lips against her finger sent a wave through her. His lips were warm, and damp from his beer. Eli looked equally shocked at the contact. “Ketchup. You had some ketchup on your face.” He nodded at her. A funny feeling she wasn’t used to feeling settled in the pit of her stomach. As she sat back in her chair, she placed her hand over her tummy to quell that feeling. Only it didn’t work.

Molly chopped it up to the fact that it had been such a long time since she was with anyone. Maybe she was just feeling these little butterflies in her stomach because she was craving the attention of a man. Not just this man, but any man. That had to be it. She should reach out and touch their waiter to see if those butterflies kept up. A part of her knew that would be strange and told herself not to even bother to think of molesting their waiter. Her inner mind chuckled at her thoughts. She was horny, that was all.

“You OK?” Eli asked her. Her eyes snapped open and looked at him, she nodded. “Do you want desert?”

“Sure, please that would be great.” Molly reached for the desert menu, and flicked through the pages. “Um, I think I will have the hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream.”

“Me too, thanks.” He said as he handed the waiter their menus.

Molly felt her cheeks go red. She hadn’t even been aware that their waiter was standing next to the table. She could have just felt him up without realizing it. She smiled dopey-like at Eli and leaned back in her chair. Trying very hard to relax.

“Are you sure you’re alright Molls?”

“Yeah I am, I guess I’m a bit tired.” She stretched her arms out in a fake yawn, accidentally punching a guy walking by with his wife. “Oh I’m so sorry.” The man just looked at her funny. Eli started to laugh, “what’s so funny?”

He leaned back in his chair and ran his hand over his stubble, “you are. Were you just picturing me naked?”

She was leaning forward, about to place her elbow on the table when he asked her, and she missed, practically face-planting herself on the red and white checkered table cloth. “Excuse me?”

“You got really flustered there for a while and it was just after you touched me, and I could have sworn you were checking out my goods before you sat back.” Eli teased.

“Eli!” Molly gasped. Why was she experiencing a Kendra-moment? Only these stupid things happen to her best friend, not her.

“Jeeze, calm down Molls, I’m only teasing you.”

“I…I know. But still, what if someone heard you?”

“Then they would think that a husband was teasing his wife. Which wouldn’t be such a bad thing since we will be playing our revised roles again tomorrow morning.” Eli declared.

“True. I guess it works just in case someone at the clinic does some checking around.”

“Just stop punching strangers or I’m going to have to tell people my wife has turrets.” Molly grinned at Eli, and shook her head just as their deserts arrived.

Chapter 4:

There was no call from Nick that night, and Eli figured it could take Nick a while if the person who set up the account covered their tracks well enough.

Eli sat in bed, with the sheet pulled up to his waist, reviewing some of the other bills and statements which belonged to Mrs. Hollingsworth. He was reading over one of her Social Security statements, when the bathroom door opened and Molly stepped out, wearing the ugliest pajamas he ever laid eyes on. She was wearing a long, blue flannel night gown with pink poodles and white snowmen on it. He managed to suppress a laugh, but she caught the eye roll.

“Stop it.”

“I didn’t say a thing,” he said as he kept looking at the statement.

“I only wear nightgowns to lounge in. I usually sleep naked.” She mentioned as she pulled the blankets back on her side of the bed.

Eli put the statement down, waved his hand, “by all means. Don’t let me stop you.”

“Bite me!”

He smirked and scratched his naked chest as he tried to go back to his task. Moving his legs up to prevent the blankets from tenting. Which he mentally told himself that it was because of the fact she usually sleeps naked, and not from the flannel nightie from hell.

“What are you doing right now?” She asked as she climbed in to bed.

Eli watched the swing of her caramel blonde pony tail, and the few fine strands that escaped the elastic. “Um, I am going through the mail belonging to my missing person.”

“Find anything?”

“Besides the phone bill thing, just that her Social Security is being direct deposited into her bank account.”

Molly pointed to his lap, “might want to take a look at that.”

Eli shifted, angling his body away from her view, and gasped “wh-what?”

“Her bank statement,” she clarified as she reached over to grab the paper, but Eli’s hand grasped her wrists, “Eli?”

“I got it Molly, thanks.”

“I was only trying to help,” she stated.

“Berlin Wall remember?”

She leaned back, but he could read her face, “alright.”

“Sorry.”

“Not a problem.”

Eli picked up the statement and leaned back on his pillows.

The moment Molly opened the door from the bathroom into the room, she noticed Eli half naked on his side of the bed, with a very intense, but very sexy, look on his face. He had solid shoulders and arms with great muscle definition, and his abs were a perfect six-pack. His chest and stomach were covered with the right amount of neatly groomed blonde hair. The way he looked made her feel silly for the poodle night gown, but she didn’t know she would be sharing a room with a man. Damn her for not listening to Kendra about always packing at least one sexy nightie, just in case. Actually damn Kendra for buying this damn night gown for her.

Molly was definitely damning her bestie, after grabbing just a little more than the statement off of Eli’s lap. It may have been a while but she knew what an erection felt like poking her, and he did just that despite his greatest effort to hide it. The moment he grabbed her wrist, Molly looked up into his blue eyes and saw something different there. Eli was fighting a personal war, of heat and control. He wanted to keep his control, and as far as Molly knew, Eli never lost that control. And that drove her crazy.

The thoughts of multiple sexual positions with the man on the right hand side of the pillow wall, ran through her head. This wasn’t like her at all, normally she only thought of just one position.

Molly’s thoughts were interrupted by Eli’s “fuck me,” and she had to fight to keep from saying, “OK.”

He turned to face her, “look at this bank statement.”

“Do I have to?” She whined as Eli thrusted the paper at her. Relentlessly Molly looked it over. There was some major withdrawals just after he Social Security checks were put in. Something wasn’t right. The woman was missing yet still using her money. She double checked when the statement was for, and it was for the second month of Mrs. Hollingsworth’s disappearance. “Maybe she went to Atlantic City for a few months?” He shook his head. She looked up at him, “this really should be easy enough to figure out. For starters, the withdrawals were local.”

“Exactly, it’s a major lead. I’ll have to go to the bank tomorrow.”

“And say what Eli?” Molly put him on the spot. “You are no longer a police detective, and the bank will not be willing to help you.”

“Shit you’re right. This job sucks!” He was frustrated. “How do you and Kendra do this without authority?”

“Easy, we break the law. You are having Nick do the same thing right now by having him hacking into her phone bills.” She explained honestly. “This job isn’t about honesty. It’s about being sneaky and creativity. You are going to have to get creative, or call her son and have him help you gain access. Or,” she paused, “nevermind. You’re not ready.”

“What am I not ready for?” Eli asked as he rung his hands in his lap.

“Pretend you’re the son.”

Eli’s head fell back, “that is a great idea Molly.”

“I sense sarcasm.”

“They would expect to see identification.” He ignored her.

“I know someone who is fantastic at making fake I.D’s.” She answered. He rolled his head to the side to look at her. “Me!”

“No, I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.” Eli covered his ears. “There’s got to be another way. A legal way to do this.”

“Like I said, get creative.” Molly leaned back on the pillow wall, resisting the urger to lick her lips, or him. “Eli, sweetie, you need to remove that moral stick from up your bum, and get dirty. This career isn’t about sunshine and lollipops, it’s about dark clouds and getting mucky.”

“You’re wrong.” He said as he leaned down closer to him. His voice dropped an octave, “I don’t have a moral stick up my butt,” Eli smiled. “It’s a bullet.”

Molly returned the smile, “good night.”

“G’night.”

Molly had breached the wall, Eli came to find out when he woke up to the soft snoring sound in his ear. Feminine hands clutched his chest hair, and caramel hair tickled his nose. Eli was even more shocked to find his arms holding her tightly against him.

Yawning, Eli rolled his head over to the night stand on his side of the bed. It read 10:30. He blinked a couple of times to clear the cobwebs from his mind. Why was it a bad thing to be still in bed at 10:30? Finally it hit him. “Oh shit! Molly, Molly wake up!”

“Hmm…”

“You’re going to be late for your doctor’s appointment.” He told her as he gently shook her.

“Oh, I’m fin. I’m not sick at all.” She murmured through a raspy voice.

No more gently shakes, Eli shook her harder, “HEY!” Molly jumped a bit, “it’s for your case, remember.”

It took a few seconds, but she woke up with a start, “Shit! Shit! Shit!” As she sat up she took a fist full of his chest hair with her.

“Ow, Molls!”

“Sorry.” She rolled over, pulled her nightgown down over her butt and got up. First stop the bathroom, he realized when she slammed the door close behind her, and the water instantly started to run.

Eli pushed himself up out of bed and headed over to the closet to pull out a pair of charcoal gray dress pants, and a purple dress shirt before pulling out a matching light purple and gray tie out of the drawer in the dresser. He really couldn’t do anything until he got his hair flattened and shaved, although looking at his watch on the dresser, shaving was unlikely. He rapped on the door, “Molly, I need in there for a couple of minutes.” He called through the door, she opened it. “Thanks, I need to wet my hair down.”

“Go for it.” She said as she applied her eye make-up.

Eli stuck his head under the sinks faucet and soaked his hair. He stretched his hand out searching for a towel. Molly placed one in his hands, “thanks!” Drying his hair only slightly, he opened his drawer to grab his mousse.

“Are you planning on shaving?” She asked.

“I don’t have time. Is that going to be a problem?”

“No, not really.”

He worked the mousse into his hair, then started to brush his teeth as Molly finished up and left. Just as quickly, Eli grabbed his clothes from the end of the bed and headed back into the bathroom to change. Except he forgot his underwear, “oh well,” he said to himself.

They drove together in his black jeep and headed over to the walk-in clinic. She was dressed in a chic, all purpose halter style black dress, with a bright pink thick belt around her slim waist, a matching headband in her hair, and black shoes. Eli noticed how nice her ass was perfectly cupped in the just tight-enough fabric, and how her long legs showed off shapely calves and looked great in high heels.

They walked in, hand-in-hand, and she wasn’t kidding about the smell of the multiple cleaning products. Eli had to choke back a cough that was brought on by the stench. There were two spinsters sitting in the opposites sides of the entry way, each sitting at a very old crappy looking desk. He assumed they were the twins Molly spoke of, Rona and Lona. He let go of her hand and placed it at the small of her back and guided her over to the desk marked, “in.” Her name tag said Rona.

“Oh, Mrs. Savidis, you’re just in time. Dr. Lieber is just about ready for you. Won’t you please have a seat?” Rona gestured to the ugly non-matching sitting area.

Eli sat down on what had to be the hardest chair ever, and what reeked of upholstery cleaner. The place was giving him a weird feeling. He wished that she gave him a heads up about using his last name. He needed to think of something quick.

A short, rounded, bald man, wearing a white lab coat, and a pair of round-framed glasses, similar to the kind Harry Potter wears, came out. “Mrs. Molly Savidis?”

Eli looked at Molly, and together they stood up and walked over to the doctor. “I’m Molly.”

“Nice to meet you Molly, I’m doctor Harold Lieber.” He shook her hand.

She turned to Eli, “Doctor Lieber, this is my husband…”

“Nick. Nick Savidis.” Eli said as he stuck his hand out. He couldn’t allow Molly to use his real name, just in case Uncle Fester here was smart enough to do a background check. He would explain that to her later.

“Won’t you follow me Molly.” He turned to walk down a hallway. Molly and Eli started to follow the doctor, but then the doctor stopped. “Mr. Savidis, since this is a consultation, there is no need for you to come along.”

“Actually I would like him here, please.” Molly intercepted.

The doctor didn’t look all that impressed, but didn’t object verbally. Eli took mental note of the man’s mannerism. He was very stiff, not like he was when he introduced himself to them. He was a little less uptight then. The doctor also stopped looking at Eli in the face, either he just didn’t like Eli inserting himself into his work or he knew Eli lied about his name.

His office had floor to ceiling book cases filled with medical book after medical

book. Plaques on the wall showed off his many degrees and his specialties being family medicine and anesthesiology. No surprise there, Eli thought to himself. His desk looked a little big but it was covered with files and papers, and there wasn’t a computer in site. This place was running on old school practices. No computers, old style ledgers and doing everything by hand. Eli sat down in a green leather chair which matched the one Molly was sitting in, and put his left foot on his knee.

“What can I do for you?” The doctor asked.

“Well basically, I came in here yesterday and I spoke to your nurse about whether or not you took full-time patients or just walk-ins.” Molly looked over at Eli. “We are moving here very soon and are both in need of finding a new doctor. But we are having issues at finding doctors in the area who are taking on new patients.”

“I understand completely.” He shuffled a few meaningless papers around to feel important. “There seem to be more patients then doctors these days, and my brother and I have definitely felt the increase of this situation. Only thing is, we can’t stop you from coming in here for treatments or even check-ups, but we don’t actually take patients on a regular basis.” Dr. Lieber explained.

“This wouldn’t really be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that our actual doctors are about four hours away, and to travel that far just for basic care doesn’t fit with our busy schedules.” Eli added to their story.

Dr. Lieber fold his hands and put them on his desk, “I’ll tell you what we can do. Officially, we don’t take new patients. If your current doctors wouldn’t mind couriering over copies of your medical records, then we can keep them on file for such occasions.” He forced a smile. “Now about your insurance…”

“Actually, my insurance hasn’t kicked in yet from my new job.” Eli said, “it will within a few months, so everything will have to be cash dealings until then.”

“Very well. Since this is just a consultation, it won’t be much anyways. You can pay Lona on your way out. And please let me know when your records will be arriving.” Dr. Lieber stood up, indicating that their meeting, as short as it was, was now over.

Eli stood up and held his hand out for Molly. They shared a quick glance, and then shook the hand of Dr. Lieber before leaving. Knowing that they wouldn’t be able to talk until they were in the car, they kept completely silent.

Lona, looked exactly like her sister Rona, only she wore lime green medical scrubs, and those ugly Croc shoes that Eli hated. He stopped in front of Lona’s desk, and waited.

“Since the both of you went in, that will come to,” she used her calculator to add it up. “Forty-four dollars.” Lona said. Eli handed her a credit card, knowing they didn’t take credit cards or ATM cards. “I’m sorry sir, cash or check only.”

“My apologies ma’am.” He handed her a fifty. And she handed him back six dollars. “Thank-you very much and have a great day.”

Lona smiled up at him, practically batting her eye lashes at him.

As they walked out, Molly smacked him on the as, “flirt!”

Chapter 5:

Molly sat in the front seat of the jeep, quiet. Still wondering why she was now calling Eli, Nick. At this point she wasn’t even sure she knew where they were going. She felt him glance over at her and chose to ignore it, and looked straight ahead.

The sun was bright, and looked warm but it wasn’t. The air was chilled and the weather man on the radio said there was a chance for flurries in the evening. Molly loved the cool air and the chance she might see snow sooner rather than later. The sky that morning had been red’s and pink’s with orange’s all mixed together. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning, her mother used to say. A gust of wind shook the jeep a bit as it drove down the main street in Kennebunkport.

“May I ask what was up with the whole, calling you Nick thing?” She finally decided to ask.

“Oh yeah I wanted to talk to you about that. I didn’t realize that you gave them my last name, and to avoid them from possibly doing a background check on me, I stole Nick’s name. Plus it was the first one that popped into my head.” Eli explained as he came to a stop at the light.

Molly looked out the window at all the little shops lining the street. Their new England charm, and the unique items they sell. No wonder she loved this part of the state the most. She turned her head back to look at him, “I was thinking on the fly, and just blurted out Savidis. I didn’t really think about later.”

“Not a problem.”

“Where are we going? Isn’t the hotel in the other direction?”

Eli’s left arm hung over the steering wheel, and his right was on the gear shift, patiently waiting for the light to turn green. “I thought we would check out the bank. I’m hoping I can persuade someone with my charm, or your cleavage.”

Molly looked down. Yep, she had cleavage. “I take it you would like me to keep my jacket off?”

“Only if we are dealing with a woman, then keep it on. Women are too catty sometimes.” Eli’s hand gripped the wheel, as the light changed from red to green. He shifted into gear and took off at a leisurely pace to the bank.

Molly continued on about how no matter what he does, he won’t get any information. “Banks are the types of places that need to be hacked into.”

“Can I pretend I didn’t just hear you say that?”

“Eli, I’m just telling you how it is. Unless you can prove that you are related and

that the account holder is missing, they won’t do fuck all for you.” She explained.

“I think you’re wrong.”

“As a former cop, you kinda suck.” Molly muttered.

“Pardon?” And she told him what she said. “Well that isn’t a very nice thing to say. That hurts my feelings after I saved you and Kendra’s asses a while back.” He put his hand over his heart.

She realized he was being sarcastic, “ah, bite me.”

After parking the jeep, the two of them walked into the bank where Mrs. Hollingsworth did all of her banking. Eli quickly went to the bank receptionist and asked if the bank manager had a moment or two to talk.

“Ms. Anderson will be with you both in a few minutes.” The receptionist answered as she motioned for Eli and Molly to take a seat.

“Button up, it’s a chick.”

“You know, you are starting to sound more and more like Nick everyday.” Molly laughed as she checked her jacket to make sure her boobs were hidden. She caught Eli smirking as he watched as she checked herself.

A tall woman with red hair, and a face full of freckles came out of the office. She was wearing a smart looking pants suit in black and her hair was in a French twist. She looked stern and very business like. Eli already assumed his goose was cooked.

“Hello, I’m Erica Anderson, the bank manager, how can I help you?” She said holding out her hand.

Eli shook her hand, and noted she had a stern grip. “I’m Eli Savidis, and this is Molly Westin, and we’re private investigators, working on a missing person’s case. I was wondering if maybe you can help us?”

She nodded, and motioned for them to follow her into her office. “I’m not sure how I can possible help, but I will try.”

Eli settled himself in a chair next to Molly, as the tall red-head rounded her desk and took a seat across from them. “Ms. Anderson, I have an account number from the missing person’s statement. My concern is, is that this woman, went missing, but someone else is cashing in on her Social Security checks. She’s been missing for about three months, all of her utilities, except telephone, have been shut off.”

“That’s really strange, go on.” Ms. Anderson agreed.

“It is. Because this woman has no computer at all, and all of a sudden her phone bill is being paid on-line. And the moment her Social Security checks come in, they are automatically withdrawn.” Eli explained.

Ms. Anderson brought up a screen on her computer, “let me see what I can do sir. Can I have the name of the account holder and the account number?”

“Her name is Evis Hollingsworth,” he paused so the manager could type her name in, then rattled off the account number.

The room fell silent, except for the clicking of Ms. Anderson’s nails on the computer keys. Her face gave nothing away, but after ten minutes she looked up. “I can not give you any information, but I can confirm that your suspicions are correct. All I can hope is that Mrs. Hollingsworth is safely found.”

“You confirming our suspicions is good enough, that will help us build a case to take to the police.” Eli said.

“Excuse me for one second,” Molly interrupted, “could you maybe tell us one thing?”

“I can certainly try, but I can’t guarantee.”

Molly leaned over, “could you tell us if the withdrawals are made from the same location or if they are made at different locations?”

She typed again on her computer, “definitely different locations.”

“Thank-you Ms. Anderson,” Molly smiled. She held her hand out, “we really appreciate your help.”

“Anytime, and I wish I could have helped you out more.” She said looking strictly at Eli, ignoring Molly.

Eli smiled, winked and responded, “well maybe next time I’ll be able to get a little more help from you.”

“Certainly.”

“Good-bye, we must go now.” Molly said as she grabbed Eli’s hand. “Come on now, your boyfriend is waiting for you at the hotel.”

Eli watched as the hot red-head’s smile fall. Nervously he laughed, “oh, she’s joking. I’m not gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Molly pulled him out of the bank like a bulldozer pushing rock in a quarry. He thought that was cute, she was jealous, and for her being so jealous about the red-head, he

was going to treat her to lunch.

Together they sat in the Seaside restaurant enjoying their shrimp salad’s, Eli teased her about being jealous. She didn’t deny it or tell him to bite her, which was enough confirmation for him. Her cheeks were flushed pink and her hair was wind blown from that one gust of wind that messed it up as they approached the door to the restaurant. Molly looked gorgeous, and sexy. Sexier than that bank manager. He stared at her. Admiring her blue eyes, and the fullness of her bottom lip.

“Why are you staring at me like that?” Molly asked. Her eyes squinting.

“You.”

“Me? Why?”

Eli reached acrossed the table and took her hand, “you make laugh you know.”

“I do? Like, in a good way?”

“Yes, in a good way.” He ran his thumb across her wrists. “You are so sexy, and you don’t even know it. You act so tough, but you’re really not.”

“Eli,” Molly flushed. “You’re really sexy too.”

Just at that moment, Eli’s cell phone rang. “I’m sorry, would you give me a few minutes?” Molly nodded and he answered.

“Eli, bud, glad I caught you.”

“Nick, what do you got for me?”

“Actually, nothing. I was hoping you had more numbers for me to run. I’m not in a really good place to run numbers.” Nick explained.

“Here’s some numbers for ya,” Eli rattled off the account numbers again, practically knowing them by hand. “What are you going to do then?”

Nick cleared his throat, “I have a plan. It might not be a good plan, but it’s a plan.”

“Just don’t get arrested.” Eli said before hanging up. He looked over at Molly and told her what was going on. Molly suggested going to talk to Mrs. Hollingsworth’s real doctor to see what they can tell them.

The doctor’s office was in an official building, unlike the walk-in clinic which was more residential. It mimicked the typical doctor’s office, with light green walls,

matching cushy chairs, dark green carpeting, and pastel laminate over the oval desk where the five receptionists were situated. The room didn’t smell as bad as the walk-in either, it smelled lightly of lemons.

“Excuse me, I was wondering if I could talk to Dr. Gregory for five minutes?” Eli asked.

The receptionist typed into her computer, “I have a small opening in forty-five minutes.”

Eli looked at Molly, she nodded. “Alright, I’ll wait.”

They walked over to pastel pink chairs with wood trim, and sat down. Molly realized that Eli was holding her hand, and had been since they left the restaurant. She wasn’t sure what was going on between them, but she liked it. A lot. Her thoughts were interrupted when Eli leaned over and whispered in her ear.

“Why don’t you take the jeep and go back to the hotel to get some work done. I have a feeling I’ll be here longer than forty-five minutes.”

She thought about his suggestion for a few seconds. “Sounds like a plan, except I’ll walk.”

“It’s cold out and it’s far, take the jeep.”

“Uh, I can’t.”

“Why not?” He asked.

Molly looked down at her finger nails, “well, it’s just that I can’t drive stick shift.”

“Oh, I’ll call you a cab.”

“I can walk, Eli. It’s not that far.”

Eli turned in his chair and gripped her hand, “Molls, it’s cold out, and it’s about twenty minutes, by car, to the hotel.”

“Alright, I’ll call a cab.” Molly reached in her purse and pulled out her cell phone. After a quick conversation with the cab company, Molly hung up. “Five minutes.”

Eli leaned over a placed a soft kiss to her cheek, “we will talk later, but text me when you get to the hotel. I just want to make sure you’re safe.”

“What’s going on here?” Molly inquired.

“That’s what we’ll talk about later.”

She smiled slyly, “well, well, I’m intrigued.” Molly patted Eli’s knee, then got up. “I’ll guess I’ll see you later.

Molly wasn’t sure what the hell was going on between her and Eli, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to sleep next to him in that flannel nightgown. No way. When the taxi came, she asked the driver to take her to the one boutique she saw on Beach Cove drive, then asked him to wait for ten minutes.

“Meter’s running lady.”

“Yeah, yeah, when isn’t it?” She said sarcastically as she got out. Within five minutes she spotted and found a butter yellow satin negligee. She thought the short nightie made her legs look great and her boobs looked bigger, which was a good thing. Molly quickly paid for her lingerie and headed back to the cab in less then ten minutes. “Told ya.”

While on the way to the hotel, Molly decided to check in with Kendra.

“I need some help, then I’m going to kill you.” Molly greeted.

“Well, hello to you Chickie-Babe!” Kendra responded. “What can I help you with?”

Molly explained the case in full detail to Kendra, starting with the entire saga about Eli sleeping in her room, and the poodle nightgown. Kendra was being a good friend by not laughing at her, and Molly appreciated that. After a little bit of chit-chat, and Molly finding out that Kendra took Hailey’s son, Sheldon to his first wrestling event, and that he enjoyed it.

“Listen Ken, I need some phony medical records, and you to be available to be my doctor in case Dr. Uncle Fester calls.” Molly explained.

“Need a set for Eli?”

“Yeah you better just in case, and remember to change his name to Nick Savidis.”

Molly heard Kendra scribbling stuff down, “done and done. I’ll get them to the walk-in clinic first thing.”

“Marvelous Ken. Thanks so much.”

Eli came back to the hotel and took off his stupid dress shoes. His feet were killing him, no wonder he preferred sneakers. He didn’t get too much information from the doctor, although he was helpful. Eli untied the laces on his shoes, as Molly hung up the phone.

Loosening his tie, he told her about the appointment. “I found out that she canceled her appointment with Dr. Gregory two days before she went missing. She was suppose to come in because of arthritis pain in her fingers and knees. It was apparently really damp that week and it was bothering her joints.”

“How did you manage to squeeze that information out of the doctor?” Molly asked as she closed her powder blue mac-book.

“He basically didn’t tell me what was in her file, just what she was coming in for. I didn’t relay too much information, but I did express her son’s concern for his mother.” Eli got up and placed his tie in his empty luggage, along with his socks. He grabbed a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt and headed into the bathroom to change.

“I called Kendra today and asked her to forge us fake medical records. We need to get into that clinic.” Molly called through the door.

“Good plan, I’m starting to figure out that going illegal is the way to go.” He hollered back, “did you remember to tell her to change my name to Nick?”

“Yes I did. She’s on it, and will email us hard copies and courier over copies to the clinic, so we know what diseases she gives us.” Molly chuckled as the door opened.

“You don’t think she would be so cruel, do you?” Eli wondered, but Molly shrugged, “oh well that’s promising.”

Kendra finished falsifying medical documents for Molly, and just started on Eli’s, when the front door was knocked on. She got up and pulled the elastic out of her hair, and let her brown locks fall down her back. She had been sitting for a while and was feeling a bit stiff. Hardy and Chewbacca jumped and clawed at the wooden door, and Kendra had to tell them to stop. Nothing could have shocked her more than who was standing on the other side of the door, but when she flew the door open Kendra laid eyes on, “Nick?”

“Hey gorgeous. I need some help.”

“You certainly do, but why are you here?” Nick moved forward pushing Kendra back into her hallway. “Sure, why not, come on in.”

“Fine I will.” Nick barged in and started telling her that he was having a hell of a time tracking the account numbers Eli gave him. “I’m really stuck, Kendra.”

“What do you want me to do about it?”

“Kendra, I need your help.” She shook her head. “Please?”

Kendra placed her hands on her hips, “you disappear for months, and you

randomly come back and expect me to just forget about what happened, well good luck with that.”

“Molly, we need to have a talk.” Eli said as he sat down on the chair in front of the desk where his lap top was.

“I think we need to talk too.”

Then the phone rang.

Chapter 6:

The phone rang on Eli’s hip. His cell phone was the culprit for the interruption. Eli held up a finger, “give me a few, sorry.”

Touching the answer key on his iPhone, he realized it was Nick. “Please tell me you have something this time, and that you are not calling to tell me that you’ve got nothing.”

Nick laughed, “actually, I’ve got something.”

“Great, now hurry up.” Eli snapped.

“Eli, if you won’t play nice I…”

“NOW! Goddammit!” Eli noticed Molly jump, and mouthed sorry to her.

“I couldn’t use my bro-in-law’s computer, as he’s majorly paranoid and has a dozen firewalls on his computer. So I went to Kendra and together we headed over to her office, which, by the way is pink…”

“Nick, you’re testing my patience right now.” Eli scolded.

“I’m getting there. Kendra’s pretty useless around computers, so we called Mr. Westin, and he came over to help.” Nick explained. “He got us through and we managed to tap into Mrs. H’s account, and get this. Someone accessed her account from an ATM machine, and drained the entire account.”

“Do you know which bank?”

“Yes, her own. Port’s Banking and Investment Centre.”

“Perfect, thank-you so much. It’s about time you got off your ass and helped me. And we’ll discuss why using Molly’s father was a bad idea later.” Eli hung up.

“What’s this about my dad?” Molly wondered.

“Nick and Kendra used him to hack into Mrs. Hollingsworth’s bank account.”

“I bet he loved that. He always feels so super-agent-like when we need his help.” Molly laughed.

Now he was even more frustrated. “Stop using your father to hack into things. It’s illegal and he’s a civilian and he could go to jail.”

“Technically we all could go to jail.”

He stared at her, “you are such a smart ass.” The laughed. He walked over to his luggage and dug around the front pocket of his discarded pants and pulled out a business card. He dialed the number on his phone.

“What are you doing?”

“Making a phone call.”

Molly scrunched her face, “now who is the smart ass? You know what I meant.”

Eli excused himself, “Ms. Erica Anderson please.”

“Oh her.” Molly sneered. “I’m going to have a bath.” Then she disappeared into the bathroom.

“She isn’t?…Thanks, could you please let her know that Eli Savidis called, I spoke to her earlier today, and it’s very important that she gives me a call as soon as possible. Thank-you.” He had just hung up his cell phone when it rang again. He didn’t think it was possible that he would get tired of hearing the Hawaii Five-O theme song, but he is now. “Nick, what’s up?”

“I tapped into the ATM’s surveillance cameras, and the footage was so grainy that I couldn’t make out exactly who it was, but it’s definitely not Mrs. H.”

“How can you be sure?”

“I doubt that an old lady using a walker would stand above six feet tall, and have man hands.”

“That makes sense. Not clear enough really sucks in helping us nail this person. Maybe there’s a way to clean it up. Can you email the video to me?”

“Already have.”

“Thanks Nick, and make sure you tell Kendra thanks as well.” Eli said.

“Um, I would love to relay your message to her, only I’m no longer in town, and she is no longer speaking to me.” Nick explained.

Eli rubbed his hand over his face, he really needed a shave. “Why? What did you do?”

“After we finished the Marceno case, we played a game of tennis, and then we went back to her place and well, we got drunk.” Nick sighed, “and then we had sex.”

“You are a dumb ass.”

“I am?” He screeched into the phone like a woman. “I go over there the next day,

and some goofy looking dude is rubbing sun block all over her shoulders by the pool. So I don’t get how she can be angry with me.” Nick chided.

“Nick, ask her because I’m sure there’s a logical explanation. Maybe she has a creepy relationship with her brother like Hulk Hogan has with his daughter. Or maybe Goofy is just a friend. Either way, she’s mad because you just disappeared on her.” Eli explained. It was tiring to be the smart one. He chuckled to himself.

“Maybe. Could you ask Molly about who the dude with the tattoos, muscles and big ears is?”

“What are you still in high school?” Nick didn’t respond. “Fine, if it comes up, I’ll ask.”

“Thanks Eli.”

Eli hung up shaking his head. He decided while Molly was occupied in the bathroom still, that he would go and wait in front of the bank for a bit to see if anyone shows up. He threw on a long sleeved dress shirt and told Molly where he was going through the door before he left.

The door to the hotel room closed and Molly looked at her watch which was sitting on top of the toilet tank. It was after six o’clock already. The bank would be closed soon. She suspected him of lying but she didn’t deserve an explanation. It wasn’t like she was his girlfriend.

Skipping dinner, Molly decided against her fancy new nightgown, and slipped into the warmth of the flannel monster. With her lap top, Molly settled herself on her side of the bed. She had some hacking of her own to do.

Molly rolled over, the sun blinding her. She found herself alone in bed. The clock on Eli’s side read ten. She didn’t remember falling asleep. The last thing she remembered was waiting for a program to download. “My lap top!” She exclaimed, then yawned. Molly rolled over back to her side of the bed, and looked over the edge at the floor. Nothing was there. She looked up, and noticed it was sitting on the desk.

Unaware, and not really caring, that her nightgown was up over her rear end, but it was twisted around as her as well. She tugged at it as she neared the desk, where she found a note from Eli on her desktop.

“Hey Sleeping Beauty;

Got in late, around 8:30. Ha-ha! And you were out cold.

Didn’t want to wake you. I’m at the bank today.

Last night was a wash.

Meet me 4 lunch? Text or call me?”

-E.”

She smiled to herself and found herself humming the theme to Star Wars. Molly wasn’t really sure how the song got into her head until she noticed her cell phone vibrating across the nightstand. She made a mad dash for her phone. Damn Kendra for talking her into the ring tone.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Mrs. Savidis?” A woman said on the other end.

“I’m s’her.” She said remembering at the last moment that she was indeed Mrs. Savidis.

“It’s Lona Lieber calling from the Lieber House walk-in.” Lona paused, “we received your medical file, and Dr. Lieber, was hoping that you could come in today for a brief consultation.”

“I can certainly do that. What time, I’m free all day.” She said as she grabbed a stack of Post-it’s, courtesy of Kendra, from her backpack.

“Is eleven-thirty, alright?”

“Perfect.” She scribbled the time down and left another one to tell Eli where she was if he came back to the hotel.

Molly walked into the walk-in clinic with ten-minutes to spare. There was no sitting and there was no waiting necessary, as she went right in to see Dr. Harold Lieber. Her falsified records were there, and wondered if the clinic realized they were fakes. Her stomach pitched, and she was great full that she didn’t eat breakfast.

“It’s so nice to see you again Mrs. Savidis.” The doctor who resembled Uncle Fester said as he held the chair for her to be seated in. “I received your medical records this morning first thing. Bright young man. Short but he was right from the medical offices where your doctor is located.”

Funny, since there was no office. Must have been Nick. “I’m glad the records made it here so quickly.”

“I’ve had a nice long look at both your record and your husband’s. And I have to say, I doubt we will be seeing you all that much as you are a very healthy thirty-four year old woman.”

Thirty-four? Oh she was going to kill Kendra. “Yes I am. Except that it’s always good to have something lined up, just in case.”

The doctor nodded, “absolutely. I’m willing to take both you and your husband

on, but it will be just as walk-ins. I think that we can work around this.” He flipped through the file. “Dr. Divanski added a notation that you and Mr. Savidis are trying to have a child, is that true?”

Molly coughed, “excuse me, um, yes. That’s true.” She’s so dead!

“If there is any special treatments that need to be done medically to help you two conceive, I’m afraid that will need to be done by a specialist. I can give you a name of a obstetrician in the area, who will except new patients.”

“I’m unaware of any serious medical reasons as to why we would have trouble conceiving. I just think our timing is off.” Except that I’m apparently thirty-bloody-four-years-old.

The doctor followed up with a few more questions and then escorted her to the door. Warned her that she’s going to need to get that insurance in as soon as possible, and then said good-bye. Molly walked to the car and dialed Eli to see if he was available for lunch.

Kendra was sitting on the black retro sofa with Hailey, talking about the upcoming weekend, Nick, and how Molly’s making out on her case. Hailey was laughing at the fact that once Molly found out that Kendra made her older and that Nick made Eli impotent, that the two of them were going to get killed. “She’s going to kill you.”

“Me? You were the one who told Nick and I to have some fun.” Kendra laughed. Her cell phone rang. “It’s the walk-in.”

Hailey took Kendra’s cell phone and plugged her nose, “Good Afternoon Morris Medical Centre.” The girls suppressed a giggle. The older woman on the other line asked for extension 665, and Hailey plugged her nose again, “just one moment please.” Kendra switched on a radio with bad pop music, and Hailey held the cell phone up to it. They counted to thirty, and Hailey handed the phone over to Kendra.

“Dr. Vivian Divanski,” she answered.

“It’s Lona Lieber from The Lieber House Walk-In Clinic. I have Doctor Harold Lieber on the line for you to discuss your patients, Nick and Molly Savidis.”

“Oh, sure I have a few minutes.” Kendra rolled her eyes and mouthed to Hailey, “Freak-a-zoid’s.”

After what felt like a never ending call about the medical records, Kendra was more convinced that there was something hinky going on at the walk-in clinic. The doctor was more concerned about the type of Insurance the couple had while they were under her care. Luckily Kendra was a good fudger and managed to keep him thinking that the couple had had really good insurance but also related to the doctor that apparently Mr.

Savidis had switched jobs and that it would be likely their insurance wouldn’t kick in for a bit. The man was more concerned about money. You can’t take money as easily from a person paying cash for everything.

“Wow, that guy was a nut.” Hailey said. “Thank-God for speaker phone. I would never have believed that if I hadn’t heard it myself.”

“I probably should call Molls and tell her about the phone conversation.” Kendra picked up her cell phone.

“Oh shit, I need to go and pick up Megan from her basketball practice.” Hailey grabbed her brown leather purse from inside the filing cabinet that was behind her desk. “Tell kiddo that I say hey.”

“Talk to you tomorrow Hails.” Kendra waved.

She ran her hands through her long brown hair, then dialed Molly up.

Molly’s Star Wars theme song cell phone buzzed in her purse during her lunch with Eli, where they discussed business. She reached in and dug through the crap she kept in there. Feeling the vibration against her finger tips, Molly wrapped her hand along the phone and pulled it out. Kendra. Her smile fell. “You are so dead!”

“Oh whatever. Just wait until you see what Nick put into Eli’s. So guess what?” Kendra asked totally ignoring Molly’s death threat.

“OK, I’ll bite, what?”

“The good doctor called me from your walk-in clinic.” Kendra paused, “actually he called Dr. Vivian Divanski regarding your medical files.”

“Really? Do doctors do that?” Molly asked as she stabbed a fry with her fork.

“How the hell should I know, I’m not a doctor, dammit.”

“I know your a Private Investigator.”

“Huh-what?”

“Nevermind. What do you got?” Molly asked. Her best friend had no science-fiction knowledge at all.

“He was all over the fact that he wouldn’t be treating you guys for the conceiving-related issues. However, I think he was calling for non-medical reassurance.” Kendra explained.

Molly took a quick sip of her iced tea, “what do you mean Ken?”

“Dr. Lieber was all over the Insurance issue. Asking me if we ever had any issues with your insurance and if there was ever an issue about missing payments. I told him that you and your husband had great insurance and that there had never been an issue.” She got muffled a bit, Molly figured because she had her cell phone between her ear and shoulder.

“Did he buy it?”

“Um,” she paused, then suddenly she was clearer, “yes he did. I explained that I was aware that your husband, Nick, started a new job and that meant new insurance. I think that helped him buy into your story a little bit.”

“Great, do you expect to hear from him again?” Molly asked.

“I don’t, but I have the clinic’s number programmed into my cell phone and labeled with a different ring tone so I know when he’s calling.” Kendra stated. “I hope he doesn’t call again, because I’m not always near the Morris Medical Centre’s receptionist. Oh you would have died to hear Hailey answer the call earlier.”

Molly laughed, “I bet. She’s having a blast working for us. I think if we were to offer this gig to her full time she’d take it in a heart beat.”

“We should talk her into becoming an investigator.”

“No way, then we would lose our receptionist.” Molly exclaimed but was joking. “I doubt that Alex would let her.”

“Me too. Talk to you soon.” Kendra hung up.

Molly ate a few more fries and too another sip of her drink while Eli waited for her to tell her about the call.

“Well?”

She swallowed, “oh Uncle Fester called Kendra, and questioned her about the medical insurance. It seemed to be more important than what was in our files.” Molly took another quick sip, “oh,” she swallowed, “we really need to see what are in those medical file. Apparently Nick had a hand in yours.”

“Shit.” Eli used his iPhone to check the email. “Found it. Let me just take a look.” He moved his thumb around a few times and stopped to read. His mouth dropped open, “I’m gonna kill him.”

“Yeah I need to kill Kendra. Why are you killing Nick?”

“It says I am impotent.” Eli blurted out, and Molly’s iced tea nearly came out her nose.

Chapter 7:

“Glad my medical problem entertains you.” Eli smirked.

“Could be worse,” she began once she finished choking.” You could have had herpes.”

Eli smiled at her, “Nah, I think I’ll save that one when the chance to do up a fake medical profile for Nick.” He was aware that he still wanted to talk to her about possibly dating or sleeping with each other for the purpose of getting it out of their system, he just hadn’t figured out which one he wanted to go for. He knew that Nick expected him to ask questions about Kendra, but Eli knew that whatever he asked, would go right back to Kendra and Nick would be worse off than he already is.

Molly tossed her napkin on to the table, “it was nice lunching with you, but I want to stake out the clinic for a while.”

“Call me so that I know you’re alright.” He demanded sweetly.

She nodded as she stood up. Her ass was amazing in her tight, dark blue, jeans, and that white fuzzy, sweater made her breasts look phenomenal and large. His mouth was watering.

“Stop drooling, it makes you look simple.” Molly teased, then turned on the heels of her boots and walked out of the café.

Eli paid the check, then headed back to the hotel to make some calls. First on his list was George Hollingsworth, to update him on his mother’s case. Unfortunately he didn’t have good news to tell him.

George Hollingsworth seemed frantic over dealing with his mother’s bank account. He was constantly going over who would do such a thing to an old woman. Lucky for Eli, George didn’t care that Eli had hacked into the account. In fact he was grateful that he did and noticed the account being drained. He was more concerned over, who else was doing it. This still begged the question, where was dear old mom? And what happened to her?

After he hung up from talking to George, he called the Police, and after a long conversation ensued between him and the local Police chief regarding the bank account. He was asked for his evidence to back up his findings. Although Eli was more than happy to hand it over, there was no way he was doing so without copies of it for himself. He tried a few times to get a hold of Nick, but to know avail he couldn’t even find his former partner. Eli looked at his watch, it had been four hours since Molly had left him at the restaurant, and she still hadn’t called him. He dialed her number but there was no answer so he left a message.

Molly was camped out in her car, watching from a distance. The clinic closed at five on Friday’s. She looked down at her watch, and it was just a little after four. Molly grabbed the binoculars sitting beside her in her Matrix and surveyed the area. No one was exiting the clinic or entering it. She focused her view to the front door where the country-style wooden Open and Closed sign was attached to the wall. It read “CLOSED”. Strange, she thought as she lowered the binoculars. Molly got out of her car, and closed the door quietly without making it latch. She was so happy that she thought to bring her sneakers to change into, which she had. Her camel-coloured boots would have made way too much noise on the pavement towards the house.

The winter weather was approaching and with that, it got dark out earlier. Light glowed from the second story, but the lights on the main floor were pretty much out, with the exception of a light glow coming from the back of the house.

Molly reached the garden on the side and stepped into the shrubbery, a loud screech echoed through the quite night, and she caught the sight of orange fur take off out of the bush. Just a cat.

“Shit!” She hissed as she ducked into the bush as a light in the room above her came on. Molly prayed to every higher being that she whoever looked out of that window, couldn’t see her. Then as the side door open, she could hear the blood rush through her ears.

A tall man, who looked like he needed food, badly, came out. “Oscar, did something scare you?”

A woman’s voice from inside the house called to him, and Molly knew it was either Rona or Lona. “Was that Oscar or Elmo, Jonathan?”

He was the other brother. He must share his food with Harold. “It was Oscar Lona. He wants inside now.” The tall under-fed doctor responded. “Come now, Oscar and let mommy feed you.”

The door closed and Molly slowly let out a breath. She carefully and quietly headed back to her car and waited for any of the siblings to leave. Molly had a funny feeling that all four of the siblings lived in the house. She glanced down and noticed her cell phone was blinking. She had missed some calls. Molly checked the caller’s list, and saw that her mother or father called her twice and Eli the other three times. “Oh shit,” she swore as she realized he was expecting her to call. She supposed that she should call him, but she was heading back to the hotel so why bother wasting her minutes.

Molly started the car just as her phone beeped with a text. It was from Kendra. “Tried calling u. On a case, got poohed on by a damn bird. Not happy :(“

Molly laughed but she would have to respond later as she needed to make nice with Eli. And make nice she would, she smiled as she took off to the hotel.

Eli was pacing the floor when she entered the room. He couldn’t help it, he was a pacer. Didn’t she get it? He was worried about her. Despite the fact they tried to find out information about the Lieber’s, they still knew very little. He had called Kendra and asked if she could do a background check on each member of the family. He tried Nick first but he still hadn’t been able to reach him.

“Eli,” Molly started, she looked sorry, but he cut her off from any apology.

“I really don’t want to hear I’m sorry, right now.” He began, calm as can be. “There’s a reason why I asked you to call me.”

“Eli, I’m not a child.”

Eli turned to look at her, his voice raising slightly, “do you honestly think I don’t know that?”

“Well you’re treating me like one.” She responded. Her face flushing with a touch of anger.

“I don’t mean to, but really is it any wonder? On that last case we worked, both you and Kendra had run roughshod all over it until Nick and I stepped in. Even then we still had keep an eye on you both.” He scolded.

Molly stood-up straighter, placing her hands on her hips, “fuck-you Eli.”

“Molly, I just don’t want you to get hurt. You know nothing about these people. They could be dangerous. Did you even think to run a background check?” He asked. Now he was pissed, he could feel that vain in his forehead pop out and throb. Clearly Molly noticed it too, because she was staring right at it.

“Admittingly, no I didn’t. I should have, because I normally do. I guess I was a little preoccupied about getting a bit of a break from home.” She answered.

“I don’t think that’s a good reason.”

“I said it was a reason, I never said it was a good one. And when I got here, I sort of got distracted.”

“By what?”

“By you!”

Eli dropped his hands to his sides, “I know, I just showed up without warning. I wasn’t exactly expecting to see you either.”

“Can we skip all this, and get to why I didn’t call?” He nodded. “I wasn’t in my

car when you called me, and before that, I forgot. It had nothing to do with rebelling, I just forgot.”

“Why were you out of your car?”

Molly sucked in a breath. “I checked through the binoculars at four and noticed that clinic was closed, which was totally weird since on Friday’s they close at five, but the lights on the second floor were all on, and there was like hardly none on the main floor. So I got out of the car and walked to the house and when I stepped into the bush, I stepped on to a cat and that cat went RRRERRRRROOOWWW,” she made a cat sound. “Then the light in the room right above my head went on and I ducked and started to pray to all the higher-beings, except for that Muslim dude, because frankly there wasn’t any room to bend over, ’cause the light was still on and then the side door opened and a tall, skinny dude who looked like he missed a few meals, and then it turned out to be the other brother, Jonathan Lieber, and he came out to rescue the cat I stepped on. And I figured that Uncle Fester must eat all the damn food because Lurch is so damn skinny because he’s like some super under-fed crazy-assed doctor. And all the siblings live together, which is a tad creepy.” She took a few breaths as she came to a halt.

Eli blinked a couple of times. Man, could this girl ramble, he thought. Molly began to open her mouth for round two, and Eli grabbed her and sealed her mouth shut with his own.

Molly felt her toes curl inside her running shoes, once the realization that Eli’s lips were touching hers. His mouth was warm and moist, and he tasted of coffee. His hands were plunged in his hair and it was sending tingles up her spine and making the hair on the base of her neck stand up. Eli’s hands and lips were sensational. Making her feel things that she hadn’t felt in a long time. Molly could feel his hands pushing the elastic out of her pony tail and the fine silken strands hit her neck, and she shivered again.

He smelled so good. Warm, with a hint of soap. She allowed him deeper into her mouth, her tongue tangoing with his. Molly moved her hands up to the back of his neck, and into his hair. For a man whose hair stuck up as much as his did, Eli had really soft hair.

Slowly she felt him pull back, a strange moan, which sounded like a whine, escaped her. His arms were still locked behind her back, holding Molly against him. “I think we need to talk,” Eli paused, “slowly before we do anything stupid.”

“Oh lets just get stupid,” responded Molly.

Molly felt her body leave the floor as Eli scooped her up off her feet. She managed to kick off her running shoes, and he sat her gently down on the bed. Their eyes bored into one another’s, and Molly could see the heat in his eyes. There was a hunger for her and it turned her on. She could feel the dampness in her panties. Not taking her eyes

off him, Eli worked the buttons through the holes of his blue dress shirt, and then tugged it down his arms. He had great arms. Molly’s mouth moistened, and she leaned forward and sucked the skin just below his navel. Eli tasted good. Salty and manly. His hands plunged into her hair again, and she found her hands slipping up his chest. Enjoying the texture of his hair slip through her fingers.

Eli gently tugged on her hair, and made her look up at him. She reached the bottom of her fuzzy sweater, no longer enjoying the feel of the sweater compared to Eli, and pulled it over her head. Molly worked to get Eli’s belt undone, and then worked on the fly of his black dress pants. To her surprise, he sprung out in front of her. His cock happy to be free. He was commando, and that turned her on. His pants fell to his feet and he stepped away just for a second to step out of his pant legs and to remove his socks. While he was down there, he removed her socks as well.

The feeling of him removing her socks shouldn’t be a huge turn on, but she was. Molly leaned back on the bad, as Eli moved up her body, kissing her belly button, and then up her torso, to her breasts. He took each nipple into his mouth and sucked on them through the lace material of her white bra, as his hand undid the button on her jeans.

“You are incredible Molls.” He said against her breast. She would never hear her nickname the same way again.

He made love to her breasts, one hand sliding the zipper down on her jeans and the other working the clasp in the front of her bra. The feel of his mouth on her skin felt warm, and wonderful. Eli sat up and tugged her jeans down her long legs, revealing her matching lace thong. He ran his hands up her legs, kissing her behind her knee, then up her thigh.

“Eli, I want you so bad.”

“I want you too.” He stood up and walked over to his suitcase, and dug through a pouch, and came up with a foil package. As he walked toward her, he ripped the package open with his teeth. That simple gesture made her feel wetter between her thighs. She leaned down on her back, and raised her hips as she worked her panties down her thighs and legs.

In no time, Eli was up and over her body. His lips mashing with hers, as he used his legs to widen hers. Eli moved his lips to the sensitive spot between her neck and shoulder. He moved his hands between her legs and readied her for him to enter. Slowly, he moved his large, thick penis inside of her. Molly gasped, and he stopped to wait for her to adjust to his size. She raised her hips to bring him in deeper once she was ready for him. Slowly, Eli and Molly moved their bodies together. She could feel the wave of her orgasm beginning and she rotated her hips to make him come right along with her. He moved his tempo, and started to grind in deeper and faster into her. His breath became hurried and so did hers. Molly’s hands clasped his shoulders, and she looked up briefly before throwing her head back on the pillow and closed her eyes. Their bodies were slick with light sweat and they both orgasmed at the same time. Eli’s breath was in time with

hers. She felt him collapse on top of her. Molly loved the feel of the weight of Eli’s body on top of hers.

The power had flickered then gone out sometime during their antics in bed. Neither of them noticed. Now they were happily entangled in the sheets, arms wrapped around each other. The snow was coming down outside and the wind blowing around, was the only sound.

Eli ran his hand gently up and down Molly’s smooth back. Her head resting over his heart. He had never experienced sex like that before. With Molly it was incredible, the best he’s ever had.

Molly lifted her face, resting her chin on his chest, “where did all those pillows go?”

He wasn’t expecting to hear that, but with Molly, she never said what he expected her to. “The wall came down, one pillow at a time.”

She made a funny face, “that’s the second time in my life I’ve missed the damn wall coming down.”

Eli chuckled, as did Molly, “yeah and I’d say this one was a really important one, too.”

“It certainly was,” she responded, her voice all husky. Molly leaned her head down and kissed Eli’s chest, right in the middle. “You are one amazing specimen Eli Savidis.”

“You are one amazing speci-woman yourself.” He kissed the top of her head.

Eli was ready for round two, until Molly got up. Naked, and Eli forgot everything. She reached for his shirt off the foot of the bed and slipped it on. Even though Molly was now covered, he still was lucky if he could remember his own name. Never did he ever think that Molly could look sexier in clothes, but she did in his shirt. A few buttons closed up the front, the hem brushing the backs of her thighs, and her hair all mused from the sex they just had.

She stood in front of the window, watching the snow come down steadily. Eli got up, not caring that he was naked, and stood behind her. He wrapped his arms around her middle and rested his head on her shoulder.

“You my lovely, should never wear clothes again.” Eli gently caressed her tummy through the cotton of his shirt.

“I really wanted to see the snow. It’s the first snow fall of the season.” She tilted her head up, and kissed him on the chin.

“Baby, nobody is out there in this weather. That’s all beach. One, very, cold, beach.” Eli pressed his lips to hers. Keeping her occupied as he undid the buttons.

It was working to, because she raised her hands to his head. His chest pressed into her back, as their mouths mated. After successfully undoing his shirt, he cupped her naked breasts in his hands and pressed his palms into her softness.

Molly laughed as they kissed, then she pulled her lips away, “wasn’t that a sly move?”

He smiled, “wasn’t it though?” He removed his hands then gently with his one hand, moved her face to look at the window. “Watch yourself.”

“Eli, I…”

“Yes you can, because I want you to see yourself the way I see you.” Eli slipped his shirt from her body.

Molly couldn’t believe how bold she was being. She couldn’t believe that she was standing in front of the window, buck naked. She trusted Eli completely. She felt Eli cup her breasts again, and her gaze met her reflection in the window. He squeezed them and then rolled each of her nipples between his thumb and fore-finger. Pinching and adding just the amount of pressure. Watching herself added to the sexual tension in her body. She could feel her breathing quicken, and knew she was slick and ready for him. Eli was hard and pressing into her backside. She didn’t want to come without him, but he was going to make her. He kept one hand on her breasts, and the other slid down her body slowly, and he slipped his finger between her folds. She was done for.

Chapter 8:

Laying on the floor, all cuddled together on all their discarded clothes, was the best way to wake-up ever and with the morning light coming up, just made Eli realize how much Molly meant to him, and how much keeping her safe was important. He felt a connection to her that went beyond sex.

She stirred against him, and he wondered if her neck was going to hurt since she fell asleep using his arm as a pillow. Eli gently shook her awake, and with a happy moan, Molly opened her blue eyes.

“Morning sexy,” he smiled down at her, his voice a bit gravelly.

Molly returned his smile with one of her own, “good morning to you too.” She rolled off his arm, “owe.”

“Little kink?”

She raised an eyebrow at him then laughed, “just a bit.”

Eli sat up and angled Molly so her naked back was to him. Placing his hands on her shoulders, he began to knead her flesh and roll the tension from sleeping out of her stiff muscles. “After our little disagreement last night, I was thinking.”

“When did you have time to think last night?” Molly asked between moans of pleasure from her massage.

“While you were babbling actually, right before I kissed you.”

“Fair enough, what were you thinking?”

Eli kept massaging her neck, “it’s not fair that only you have to check in with me, and I was being unreasonable.”

She nodded, “go on. I’m starting to like this conversation.”

He chuckled, “how about I check in with you, and then two hours later you check in with me, and then so-on?”

“A compromise I can deal with.” Molly turned to face him, “I have a request of my own.”

“Shoot,” he smiled as he brushed a strand of her hair out of her eyes.

“If we can’t get a hold of each other right away, we leave a message. And the moment that person checks their messages, we have to call the other one back. If I’m talking to the Lieber’s, I really don’t want to stop to give you a status update on my case

in front of them.” Molly tugged on his shirt, that he had used as a pillow.

Eli watched her, tightened his lips together and responded. “OK fine that works. Why are you dressing?”

Molly had a great smile, it just lit up her eyes and her porcelain complexion got a rosey glow, “I’m actually really cold.”

“Fair enough.” Eli stood up, “hot shower with yours truly Miss Sexy-thing?” He held his hand out for her to grab. She nodded and placed her hand in his and he pulled her to her feet.

God, she felt like skipping but there was no way that was going to happen despite how happy she was. Her body ached in places she hadn’t realized existed. Maybe she should buy the Wii fit for her Wii unit, maybe that will help her out with those strange muscles she didn’t realized she had. Four times in less than fifteen hours had made it all worth it. Life was great.

She was all smiles as she felt the snow crunch beneath her boots as she walked to her car. The shower this morning was great. Who knew that someone else controlling the shower head could be such wicked awesome fun.

Molly plugged in her Taylor Swift CD into her car’s stereo system and turned it up loud. She started to sing along then stopped as she realized that she couldn’t just walk into the walk-in clinic, as ironic as that was.

She would figure something out. On her drive over, Molly felt her stomach rumble and realized that she hadn’t had breakfast yet. Luckily she was approaching a little bakery which was perfect as she was craving a ham and cheese scone to go with her large coffee with double milk. As she got out of the car, Molly nearly caught her finger in the door. “Crap!” She exclaimed. Within seconds Molly’s brain came up with the perfect excuse to go to the walk-in.

It was going to take some working up to do, but she would do it to get inside that clinic, legitimately. Kendra was smart enough to include stupid and clumsy type accidents into her medical file, so this wouldn’t surprise the doctor at all. Molly chowed down on her scone and drank her coffee. The idea of slipping a little Bailies in there for some liquid courage held some appeal as she finished the last gulp. Too late.

Molly tossed her purse on to the passenger side seat, put her gloves on and her winter hat into her mouth to bite down on. She grabbed on to the car door and closed her eyes, and slammed it shut on her finger. Except she missed. Molly did it the second time and didn’t miss.

“Holy-mother-blubber-gabbin-flov-nerd-fucking-Sponge Bob-fucking-Square

Pants-Crap-in-a-bloody-friggin’-hats-oid!!” She paused and forced a smile as a young mother walking her son to school strolled by. Once she was gone, “son-of-a-bitch-fucker-shit-eater!”

That so didn’t feel good at all, and if anybody ever accused her of not pulling her weight in the business, she was going to make sure they knew about her slamming her finger in the car door in the name of a case, and then they could bite her. She climbed into the car, choking back tears and called her office. “Hail’s it’s me.”

“You sound like you’re crying. Who do I have to kill?” Hailey responded.

“Me. I did it to myself.”

“Ah-what?”

“I slammed my finger in the car door on purpose.” Molly cried. She felt like an idiot.

“OK, but why?” Hailey asked.

“I needed an excuse to go to the Walk-in clinic.” She explained. “I can’t just walk in without a reason.”

“Well there’s irony for ya.” Hailey laughed, “why didn’t you just say you think you have herpes or feminine itching?”

“Because we’re saving that for Nick.”

“What? Feminine itching?”

“No, Auhg!” She was frustrated by her sister. “Are you sniffing glue?”

“Shut up and no.” Hailey responded.

“Seriously now, how are things at the office?” Molly inquired.

“Running smoothly.”

“Great,” she responded. “Has Kendra killed Chewbacca yet?”

“Nope, because he is sitting next to me on my left and Hardy is on my right.” Hailey answered.

“Even better. Listen, I’m at the clinic now.” Molly said as she parked her car. “I might be longer here in Kennebunkport, could you call the hotel and extend my stay for three more days?”

“Um,” Hailey was rummaging through her desk. Molly could hear it over the receiver. “Sure thing. I’ll call you after I talk to the hotel. I’ll try to keep you in the same room.”

Molly walked up the front porch, “son of a bitch!”

“What’s wrong?” Hailey asked.

“The clinic is closed today. It’s suppose to be open on Saturdays.”

Hailey choked back a laugh, “so you slammed your finger in the car door for no reason.”

“I’m hanging up now.” Molly stated as she hung up. Molly knocked on the door anyways. No answer. “Perfect,” she said to herself.

Molly walked across the drive way to the back of the house. Near the detached car port, there were trash cans which had been emptied last night, but now were full. The bags were the clear blue ones used for recycling, and there were two of them, filled with paper. Not shredded. Looking up she saw a black cable running from just over the car port to the Lieber’s house. Molly took the two clear blue recycling bags with her and followed the cable to the neighbour’s house. The house looked like it was shut up tight for the winter. The cable was connected to a phone jack covered in a plastic protective covering. Connected to the phone jack, was an Internet connection.

The Lieber’s were stealing the Internet from their neighbours. She could have sworn that there were no computers in that house. Not wanting to get caught, she quickly clicked a few pictures with her cell phone and took the papers in the bags and made a mad dash for her car, careful not to slip and hurt herself.

Eli sat at his computer as he talked on the phone to various people, including the police, Ms. Anderson, and George Hollingsworth. Trying to piece together some clues about the disappearance of George’s mother. He even talked to her physician.

He just hung up his cell phone when molly burst through the door, carrying two large blue recycling bags full of paper. He wasn’t going to ask. “Hey Molls.” Eli said as he stood up.

“Hey sweetie,” she gave him a quick kiss. “I have scored big time.”

Eli smiled and gave his best modesty look, “yeah I know. I did too.”

“No not you, I meant with my case.” She tossed the bags on the floor and then turned to see him pretending he was wounded. “I went to the clinic today because I purposely slammed my finger in the car door.”

“Why?”

“Because I couldn’t just walk-in with nothing wrong with me, now could I?”

Her logic often confused him, but he also found it refreshing. “Guess not.”

“Anyways, the clinic was closed and nobody was there.” She paused and Eli just stared at her, waiting for her to go on one of her no-air rants, but she didn’t. “I walked to the back of the house and spotted these,” she pointed to the bags on the floor. “Now they could be nothing, but I’m hoping there’s at least something to indicate Insurance Freud. It’s a start, anyways.”

“Yes it is. You going to sift through all of that?” Eli wondered.

“Hopefully. I have more,” and Molly proceeded to tell him about the Internet cable. He questioned whether or not she was positive. “I am. It’s an old school hook-up, but I’ve seen that kind before. The Lieber’s are stealing the neighbour’s connection.”

“How can they steal if the neighbour’s aren’t there?”

“They have a phone line and it’s hooked in through that. Most people don’t turn their phones off because it’s a pain in the ass.” Molly explained.

“Alright, good lead.” Eli admitted. “I have one of my own. Nick retrieved footage from an ATM camera of the person who is siphoning money from Mrs. Hollingsworth’s account. It’s so grainy that I can’t make anything out. I’ve been at it for a long time.”

“I’m no CSI or anything, but I know something about computers, maybe I’ll give it a try.”

“It seems like a lost cause, so we’ll try that after if I can’t get anything else to fit together. How’s that for a plan?”

“Sounds good.”

“Besides, I have a huge amount of PDF files to go through from the bank. How about when we’re both ready for a break, we’ll order a pizza?” Molly nodded at his suggestion.

An hour passed by and his eyes felt like the game Boggle. Just as if someone took his head and shook it repeatedly. Eli leaned back on the uncomfortable wooden chair and pinched the bridge of his nose, then looked down at Molly spread out all over the floor.

She was surrounded by piles of papers. She had a system going on, but Eli hadn’t a clue what the system was. The look on her face as she worked made him smile. Molly’s eyes were creased together in concentration and she chewed on a pen lid attached to the end of the pen she was using. Aside from neat little piles, there was a heap of untouched

papers. And one of those papers caught his eye.

Eli bent over and snatched it up. An insurance form for Evis Hollingsworth, “ah, Molls?”

“Huh?”

He looked at her and held up the paper, “have you by chance come across any papers with the name Evis Hollingsworth?”

Pulling the pen from her mouth, “I don’t think so.” Ducking her head she scanned her piles and grabbed a pile after locating what she wanted. She shifted through the papers, then her head snapped up. “Yeah, right here.”

Eli got up and met her mid way as she leaned up, then took paper from her. His eyes scanned it, it was another part of the insurance form. With the the page number on the bottom indicating it was page three of sixteen. “There has to be more in here.”

“I’m sure there is Eli, but I haven’t found any more.”

He was starting to get a bit frantic. He read through the two pages he had and started to sweat. Mrs. Hollingsworth’s claims were quite frequent and the page he had found on his own, was fairly recent.

“Well?” Molly asked.

He held up the sheet, “this one, lists a claim put in, five weeks ago.”

“Oh my God.” Molly quietly spoke. “Then where is she?”

Eli blinked a few times, “I haven’t a clue.”

Chapter 9:

Nick rubbed his hands together preparing to pick up the two weights in front of him. His brother-in-law, Tony, was beside him on the left and his step-brother, Aaron, was in front of him, at the gym. He was in Boston, again, trying to visit with his family. Every time he tried to spend some quality time with them, he would get called to action by his former partner. Nick never actually believed that Eli would need help with anything, unless it’s the whole no longer having access to the Police network. He was beginning to think Eli was getting lazy. Boston was much colder than he anticipated, it even felt colder than Maine.

He was just about to pick up the two dumbbells when his cell phone buzzed. Looking down, he noticed it was Eric. Figuring his partner wouldn’t give up until he got a hold of Nick, he figured he should just answer it and get it out of the way. “Eli, what’s up?” He was slightly annoyed.

“Got a minute?”

“Ah, well not…”

“Good.”

“Really…”

“I need you to do me a favour.” Eli talked over Nick.

“…at the gym.” He managed to finish through gritted teeth.

“Nobody really cares Nicky. I need you to stop and write down these numbers.”

“You can read off all the numbers you like, but I am no where near a pad of paper or a pen at the moment, so good luck to you.” Nick responded.

“Nick you know I wouldn’t ask if I had other options.” Eli pleaded.

“For starters, this is your case, not mine. I know that you are more than capable in your investigation skills, and I wish you would leave me out of it.” Nick paused, “and Kendra’s available to help you, or you can do something totally unimaginable, do it yourself.”

“I tried Kendra first. I can’t get a hold of her.”

“Fine, but I’m hanging up now, and I will call you back the moment I can located a pen and paper.” Nick stated before disconnecting the call. He let out an irritated huff and headed towards the locker room.

“Hey, where are you going?” Tony called to him.

“I’ve got work to do. Carry on in your work out, I’ll be at the juice bar.” Nick kept on walking.

He rummaged through his gym bag and managed to find a pen, but nothing to write on. He headed to the juice bar for a protein shake and a pile of napkins to write on. He sat down with his papaya smoothie and called Eli back. After jotting down the insurance claim numbers and the name of the broker, Nick realized that he was headed back to Maine. Something in his gut told him that was a good idea.

Eli gave Molly a quick kiss as she was leaving to do some work on the history house where the Lieber’s walk-in clinic was. She wasn’t gone for more than five minutes when there was a knock at the door. He opened it expecting to see Molly but instead it was the police.

“Mr. Savidis,” the young detective began, “we found your missing person.”

“Why do I have a feeling that this isn’t good news?” Eli studied both the younger detective, whose face gave away everything, and the older detective’s whose face gave away nothing.

The older detective stepped forward, “a jogger found her body on the beach this morning around seven.”

“Any other details you can give me?”

“Right now all we know is she has been dead for approximately thirty-six hours. There were ligature marks on her wrists, ankles and even around the neck. No cause of death has been determined yet.” The older detective whose name was Wayne Scott. “You’re welcome to come down to the station to help us out.”

Eli grabbed his coat, and headed out the door. “If your guys go to her house, you will find my prints because her son gave me a key.”

“We know and we’re not all that worried. Your prints would be in the system since you were a cop.”

He went with the detective’s back to the station and together they went over the evidence collected by Eli and the evidence collected from the scene of Mrs. Hollingsworth’s body dump. There was a discussion about who should alert the next of kin, which was Eli’s client. After a twenty minute, loud discussion about the matter, they all settled on a compromise. Eli and the two Detective’s would go to alert George Hollingsworth. There was also the compromise of not alerting the media. They wanted to keep the news of Mrs. Hollingsworth’s death from the media. Eli would have to wait and see if the police department obliged.

Now he found himself in a car with Detective Scott and the younger one, named Michael Brentwood. He never would remember either of their names. He wasn’t in the mood to be nice to them after how many times George Hollingsworth tried to get their help, and now the man’s mother was dead. He was doing the one job that he hated the most as a detective. Notifying the next of kin. He hated to do it, he hated it because he always had to watch the body language of the family members in case some might be suspects. It truly was the worst job ever.

It was mid-afternoon when they pulled-up to Eli’s clients house. There was a brisk coldness to the day, which matched the mood. Eli couldn’t remember it being so cold in November.

He pushed his finger into the door bell and waited. It felt like an eternity before George opened the door. This notification was worse. He now knew the person affected by this, personally. Maybe a downfall of being a private investigator. This one was probably the worst of his career thus far.

The moment George opened the door, Eli noticed that George knew by the look of the two detective’s standing behind him.

“I’m detective Scott and this is my partner detective Brentwood.” Scott held out his badge.

Ignoring the two detective’s, and Eli couldn’t blame him, George turned to him. “You found her, didn’t you?”

“George,” he began in his cop tone, but deciding to quickly drop it. “May we come in?” His client stepped aside and allowed Eli and the two detective’s inside. “Thank-you.”

“I don’t know why I’m even bothering. I can tell by the looks on your faces that you didn’t find her alive.” George said. His expression hardened in order to mask the pain. “How?”

Eli took George Hollingsworth’s expression for a touch of relief for at least knowing where she is. “Can I talk to you, alone?” They walked into the living room, leaving the detective’s behind. “George, your mother’s death wasn’t natural causes.”

“What are you saying?”

He took a deep breath, and just blurted it out, much like just ripping off a band-aid. “She was murdered.”

George’s head which was looking at the floor snapped up. Eli watched very closely, and his client started to shake his head slowly, “no. No that’s not possible. My

mother is, I mean was a good person. Nobody would hurt her, she was harmless.”

“Even so George, unfortunately, this happens. And this time it happened to your mother. I believe it’s the same person who has been stealing her money too.” Eli explained.

His client was visibly upset, his hands were shaking, but he was listening carefully to Eli. “how did this monster kill her?”

“Now I really don’t think you want to know, and besides we don’t exactly know yet.” Eli suggested, knowing he was going to have to tell him what he did know.

“Eli please be straight with me. I need to know what you do know.” George insisted.

“Officially like I said, we don’t know. The autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.” Eli stopped, waiting to see if that was enough. It wasn’t. “She was found on a beach by a jogger early this morning.”

“Go on.”

“She was partially dressed, and had severe antemortem bruising on her wrists, ankles and neck.”

“Meaning?” George questioned.

“Meaning,” he paused trying to find a way to sugar coat it, but there was no way to do so. “Meaning, she was being restrained for sometime.”

George sniffed back his emotion. “They kept her alive to steal from her, am I correct in assuming that?” Eli nodded. “How long has she been…been gone?”

Eli couldn’t blame him for not being about to say dead. “Your mother died sometime around Friday evening.”

Thankfully, George didn’t ask anymore questions. He had heard enough, then politely asked Eli to find whoever did this to his mother and offered to pay him ten-thousand more dollars on top of the original amount. Eli declined the money but said he still wasn’t finished with the case and that finding the person or persons responsible is still part of the original case.

On the way back to Kennebunkport, Eli called Nick. Since there was no answer, he left a quick message on his voice mail telling Nick to keep looking but kept the fact that she was found from his former partner.

Molly had found more documents on Mrs. Hollingsworth. A claim that was put in

by Dr. Jonathan Lieber, for a hip replacement. Knowing that Eli had been in contact with her regular physician, Molly checked his notes for the phone number and called him to confirm the bad hip. When she talked to the doctor, he said to her that there was never anything wrong with her hips, and that there was no need for a hip replacement.

She then ordered Chinese for delivery, then sat back with a stack of pages belonging to Eli’s client’s mother. There weren’t more outrageous claims other than the hip replacement. But some of the dates of certain claims failed to add up. As she was writing down dates on a note pad, Eli walked in the door. He looked tired and his beard was coming in thick, despite the really close shave he gave it earlier.

“Hey Hun, didn’t you say Mrs. Hollingsworth’s son said she barely went to the walk-in clinic?”

“Um, yeah,” he said slowly not sure what she was getting at. “Hello to you too.” He kissed her. Lingering long.

She was glad it wasn’t a quick one like this mornings. He was escaping something but at this moment all she wanted was Eli. He pulled back slowly and rested his forehead on hers. Eyes closed. “Are you alright?” She asked, but he gently shook his head back and forth, still attached her hers. “I ordered Chinese.”

Eli took a deep breath and sat back on the bed, “thanks, that actually sounds really good right now.”

“Wanna talk about it?” Molly asked as she put the papers beside her on the bed.

“Um…” He paused for a real long time. “I don’t think it was such a big deal. I think I am just pooped. I’m basically having a hard time adjusting to not being a cop. I keep thinking that cases that are this simple should take less time but clearly that’s not the case when you have to basically watch every little thing you do as to not break the law.”

“Or get caught.” Molly added.

Eli smiled and shook his head, “that too. I guess I just miss having the endless resources.”

“You just need to learn to make your own resources.”

Eli was quiet for a while. He took his shoes and socks off and then climbed up beside her on the bed. “How long until the food gets here?”

“Not enough time for whatever you’re thinking.” Molly teased.

“What?”

“I know that look Eli Savidis.” And no sooner did she say that did he put his hand

between her legs, and no sooner did he try to go for the promise land was there a knock on the door. “That would be dinner. See I told you.”

“Good, because I can think of something other than a stupid fortune cookie to open after I chow down on this meal.”

“Ew, but fine by me.” Molly laughed.

She didn’t buy for one second that he was tired. There was something bothering him that he wasn’t telling her. Sooner or later she would find out but if he wasn’t ready to tell her, then she wasn’t going to force the issue. They ate their Chinese take-out in comfortable silence as they watched the news. The start of every news story had Eli holding his breath, but then he would let it out. Molly knew there was something that could be on there that he was waiting for.

“What are you waiting for them to report?”

“What do you mean?” Eli asked as he shoved an egg roll into his mouth.

“You keep holding your breath at the start of every story and then let it out in relief when it starts. So what’s up?”

Eli chewed quickly then swallowed. “I think someone at the police department leaked information to the media about the funds being siphoned out of Mrs. Hollingsworth’s account.”

He was lying. “Oh, alright then. That’s not really news worthy is it?”

“It is if they think it is linked to bigger fish.”

“True I suppose.”

They fell silent and finished eating their meal. Molly was about to open up her fortune cookie when Eli grabbed it out of her hand and tossed it over his shoulder. Thankfully it was still in it’s plastic package. “Your fortune Miss Westin is that you are going to get lucky this evening. And your lucky number is sixty-nine.”

“Worst fortune ever.” She laughed. “Had to pick the cheesiest number in the entire sexual world.”

“Trust me sweetheart, you won’t be laughing.” He kissed her behind her ear as he worked the buttons on her blouse. She worked at his shirt, pulling it from the waist band of his slacks.

In not time they were naked, and Eli was on top. So far the fortune wasn’t a bad one.

“One thing I want to say,” Eli stopped to say, “I think that we should never be alone on our investigations. I am not sure what you’re dealing with, and I sure as hell don’t know what I’m dealing with.”

“Um, alright but…”

“No buts right now Molls, I just need you to promise me.”

“I promise Eli.”

“Great.” Eli kissed her hard on the mouth. His tongue entering hers and possessing her like he was afraid of losing her.

If he was going to play rough, so was she. Molly hooked him and rolled him to his back. She landed on top of him. He may need to be in control right now for whatever reason that was obviously bothering him, but Molly figured that if she took control away, then he would could just forget. Because she was going to rock his world.

Chapter 10:

After making love all night long to hopefully keep Molly from asking questions, Eli was so tired. He didn’t feel much like working today and talked Molly into taking a break in the afternoon. So while she worked all morning at trying to find out more information, he napped and watched bad talk shows.

All Molly said that she was doing was going to the library to look at newspaper clippings and then coming right home. He figured that he could skip being out with her as long as she promised to check in with him regularly and if anything strange happens.

He rolled over and opened his eyes, realizing he mus have fallen asleep, to find Molly sitting next to him. Just watching him.

“Creeper.” He joked. She laughed. “How was your research?”

“Dreadful. How was your nap?”

“Lonely.” Eli grabbed her around the waist and pulled her deeper into the middle of the bed. She laughed and squealed in delight. “I was thinking,” he began once he had her pinned beneath his body. “That maybe we should go to the Lighthouse restaurant for dinner tonight, what do you think?”

“I’m thinking, that’s great, but why leave the room?” Molly wiggled her hips. He was starting to like her idea much better than his, and so did the raging hard-on in his jeans.

“No, seriously.”

“Um, I like. They have great lobster there.” Molly answered.

Eli leaned down and kissed her. Lingering long enough, but not over doing it or else they would never leave the room. “Even this time of year?”

“Especially this time of year.”

“Alright then. I guess I should change into something dressier.” Eli rolled off of her, then held his hand out for her to grab.

“Me too, only I’m not sure I have anything suitable.” Her brow’s creased and her mouth went crooked as she tried to recall what was in the closet.

“I found something, it’s on the back of the door.” Eli informed her.

“Wow, confident much?” Molly walked into the bathroom. She would find a garment bag on the hook with a dress he had sent over from a local shop. “Oh my God! Eli!!”

“Shit, you hate it?” He said as he walked into the bathroom. Only clearly she didn’t hate it, she loved it. “Nevermind.”

“This is so beautiful.” She held up the long, elegant satin bronze coloured dressed. “How did you know my size?”

“I’ve seen you naked, trust me I know your size.” Eli smiled.

Molly put her hand on Eli and pushed him out the door, “get out so I can get ready.” Then the door was closed in his face.

Shrugging, he walked over to a nice suit he had in the closet and proceeded to get dressed. He was tucking in his dark blue dress shirt into his black trousers when the door opened. Standing before him like an angel, was the devil in disguise who could do wonders in bed. The dress hung on her slight curves perfectly. The dress gave her amazing cleavage making her breasts, which were already a good size, look even more voluptuous. The strapless dress hit her mid-calf, with a slit up the left leg, and the bronze coloured satin shimmered in the light. She looked amazing. Molly swept her hair into an elegant side pony tail at the base of her neck, and curled it into ringlets. Her make-up matched, making her look like a sexy bronzed statue.

“Wow.”

Molly walked over to him and finished tucking his shirt in for him, then straightened his tie. “I was taught that I can look great in ten minutes. A skill that I thought was useless but has actually come in handy tonight.”

“Who taught you that?” Eli asked.

“Kendra.”

“Remind me to have Nick kiss her thanks for me.” Eli slid his arms around her waist and pulled her close. He stared into her blue eyes for a bit, then decided if they wanted to eat, then he better knock it off. “We better go.”

Eli helped her into her coat and then they left the room and headed to the car. Eli made her wait while he pulled up in front so that she wouldn’t get too cold.

Molly hadn’t been to the Lighthouse Restaurant in many years. Last time she was there Kendra’s ex-boyfriend, Matt, took her and her then boyfriend, Michael, there for his and Ken’s anniversary. Oddly it was an anniversary that Molly had no clue what for. She was sure she didn’t want to know. It’s sometimes safer that way.

The white twinkle lights decorated the entrance of the small restaurant which looked over the Atlantic ocean. The floors were a dark wood, and creaked in places.

Elegant piano music played in the background and the tables were lit by floating candles in a shallow dish. There were tiny starfish in the water underneath the candles. The light was dim, but bright as well. Shadows weren’t quite casted on the walls, but they were on the floor.

The waiter held out her chair for her as Eli seated himself across from her. They were in a secluded corner and it baffled her on how Eli could snag such a table.

He reached across the table and took her hand, while he ordered champagne. Molly didn’t have the heart to tell him that she wasn’t much into it but she would drink it tonight. He was working so hard at making the night romantic.

Within seconds his expression changed, from the smile in his eyes, quickly turned to dread. A moment passed when she understood why. A tall, very muscular guy with short, light brown hair, dressed in what had to be top of the line Armani stood next to their table, with a busty blonde with dark roots, who was either Hooter’s waitress or a stripper. Molly wasn’t sure. Kendra would know. She could pick out a hooker or a stripper or Hooter’s chick from a mile away. It was a gift.

“Eli, little brother, what the hell are you doing here?” The guy greeted with his giant grin. Mouth full of white teeth.

“Eating dinner.” Eli responded surly.

The big guy let out a huge belt of laughter, then looked at her. He was checking out her cleavage. Molly crossed her arms and rested her hands under her chin in an attempt to shield her boobs from this ass-clown’s eyes. “Who do we have here? My brother, couldn’t possibly be dating such a hottie.”

“Eddie, this is my friend Molly. Molly this is my older, annoying brother Eddie.” Eli introduced reluctantly.

“Molly, eh?” Eddie smiled. “Very nice to meet you.”

“Same.” Molly responded.

Eddie was a tall guy. His muscular frame was bulging from under his dress jacket. His hair was trimmed in a stylish way, but on any other guy, this would be sexy. On this guy is screamed slime ball.

“Molly and baby brother Eli, this is my wife, Denise.”

“Wife?” Eli gasped. “When the hell did you get married?”

Eddie kept his hand on what was likely his wife’s ass as he spoke. “We got married last week actually.”

Molly watched Eli closely. He was clenching his teeth, and that vain popped out on his forehead again. It seemed to actually get bigger when his brother and new sister-in-law pulled up two chairs and unceremoniously joined them.

Denise’s breasts were in more danger of spilling over her tight black, tube dress than Molly was of hers. She had the roots which belonged to what Kendra would refer to as “trailer park blonde”, and she had a tattoo on her ankle of snake. Classy, Molly thought. The woman didn’t fit in this restaurant at all, and was really surprised that she didn’t get tossed out on her lycra ass.

“So I met Denise here, a month ago in Florida. She and her son lived down there and I saw her and it was instant love.”

“Hmmm, I see.” Eli nodded than shared a look with Molly. “What is that you do for a living Denise?”

“I’m a dancer.” She said flipping her long, ass-bound, fake blonde hair over her shoulder. “I worked at the Classy Moon Lounge in Fort Lauderdale for the last ten years.”

Eli nearly spit out his water, which he had just taken a drink of. “Ah…”

“Nice. Must be hard work.” Molly intercepted.

“Oh it is. Y’all should see me dance when I find a new job here.” Denise chomped away on what was likely gum.

“She’s a firecracker this one.” Eli said sarcastically. Molly kicked him under the table.

Eddie smiled and nodded instead of listening to the undertones of the conversation. “Anyways, Elliott, dad and Eric are coming in tomorrow for lunch. The two of you have to join us. It’ll be a great little family gathering.”

“Elliott?” Molly questioned.

“Yes I have a full name.” Eli responded.

“I like it a lot.” She smiled at him.

Eli smiled back, he was thankful for her having his back. “Thank-you for the invite Eddie but Molly and I are here on business and it’s just not possible to get away.”

“Well if you change your mind,” and Eddie scribbled directions with a fountain pen on the restaurant’s cloth napkin. “We are off to dine alone. Happy romance you two.”

After the gruesome twosome left, Eli’s head collapsed into his hands. “Well, all

that was missing was a wink, the fingers doing that gun thing, and a the noise that goes along with it.”

Eli started to laugh, “thanks for making me laugh. I’m sorry you had to endure that. I try to maintain a safe distance between my family and the women I would hope have potential.”

Molly smiled. She tried to get him to open up more about why his family seems to embarrass him but all he kept saying back was, “were you not just here?” So she left it. For now. The curiosity was getting to her about his father. What we he like? How could he have one son as great as Eli and have another as slimy as Eddie. And what was Eric like?

“My brother, the investment banker. The one, that aside from me, supposedly has his head on straight, married a stripper. How old was that thing?” Eli whispered to her, leaning in close.

“She was about thirty in this light, but I look fifteen so there. I’d say she’s probably about fifty, may be a bit younger.”

“Was she nasty or was it just me?”

“No, she was nasty.” Molly agreed. “She bred.”

“What?”

“Someone actually helped that woman breed. Did you miss that part about her having a son?”

Eli slapped his hand to the side of his cheek, “how the hell did I miss that?”

“I don’t know, but I’m glad because I can only imagine what your verbal reaction would have been right in front of them.” Molly smiled, and Eli smiled in return.

Eli found himself standing in the living room of his brother’s house. Trying to keep Molly from being hit up for money by his brother Eric or being groped by his father. She rocked his world last night after dinner and then asked him to go to his brother Eddie’s party. He was even starting to like the name Elliot. The way she said it was like she was purring his name.

Denise’s son, Dillon, was fifteen years old with really curly, shaggy hair. He was rude and said, “wat up bitch?” to Molly. She didn’t seem to be phased by it, but what pissed them both clearly off, was that Eddie just laughed. Like that was something appropriate to say to a woman of any age. Eli was slightly disappointed in his brother Eddie. He would expect this of Eric but not Eddie. Eddie used to be such a smart guy. Now he was no smarter than the old stripper he was now married to and her inbred son,

Dillon.

“So Molly, what is it that you do?” Eric asked, as he leaned in. Clearly he wasn’t smelling her, Eli thought. He was.

“I, um,” she looked at him, catching him in mid-sniff. “I work as a private investigator. What is that you do?”

“I am like John Kerowack.”

“You mean Jack Kerowack.” Molly corrected.

“Yeah sure babe. I drift and charm my way all over the place. Living in a camper van and just being me.” Eric smiled.

Eli studied his other older brother. Eric was short, and getting chubby. Likely from all the drugs he did and the booze he consumed. He wore his baseball cap indoors, and there was a slight hole in the ass of his jeans. He didn’t smell. Which was a bonus. For thirty-three, Eric looked like the stripper his other brother was now married to. He looked way older than he should be. It wasn’t a surprise, Eric was more like their father than Eddie or he was. Even Eddie rarely touches alcohol, and as far as Eli knew, never even smoked a cigarette let alone a joint. But then again, he didn’t think Eddie would marry a stripper and here he was, at his brother’s family gathering to introduce his new bride. The stripper.

His father was even more sad. Elton Savidis, used to be so full of life. He was reliable and held a steady job. He was respectable at one time. Then cancer took his mother away from them all, and his father fell into alcohol for his salvation. The cancer which took his mother from him at a young age, also took Elton’s self-worth and stripped him of his dignity and character. Elton stopped showing up to work at the law firm he was working and was fired. The next thing Eli knew, they were leaving their nice home in the suburbs and take up in the shit-hole town of Yardly. Probably the only place in Maine that sucked completely. His father’s brown hair was turning gray, and his brown eyes stopped shining. He battled with alcohol, and was currently proudly sporting his two month chip. Eli was impressed. That was the longest his old man had made it to without alcohol. Eli was even more impressed with the fact that his brother Eddie was not serving alcohol at this little function.

“Elliott my boy,” his father said as he wrapped his arm around his shoulders, “I’m so proud of you. Your mother would be so proud.”

“Thanks dad.”

“Now I mean that. Considering what I didn’t do all those years while you were just a boy, I couldn’t be happier than knowing that you have a good head on you shoulders. And Molly, now she’s a classy woman. You treat her right.”

“I will dad. How are things going?” Eli asked, wondering if his dad found a job.

“Well, I’ll be honest, it was rough there for a while.” His father said as he scratched the salt and pepper beard on his face. “I kept losing jobs. Not news to you though, eh son?”

“Not really, no.”

“But, I am starting a job next week at the high school in Yardly. The one you boys went to.” A sense of pride emanated from Elton Savidis.

Eli smiled back at his father. He was so proud of himself and that made Eli glad that he got manipulated into coming. He was glad he was talking to his father. “What will you be doing dad?”

“Nothing glamorous like you, son. I’ll be part of the janitorial staff.” Elton admitted. “I don’t plan on getting fired any time soon. I need to clean up my life. I’m ashamed of myself now. I just wish I could have figured that out a long time ago. Your mother is probably pissed off at me.”

“Probably,” he agreed. He looked over at his father, and the two smiled slowly and then laughed.

A few hours past, and Molly and he had managed to survive. She said that she enjoyed talking to his father. Reassuring Eli that his father never once tried to grab her ass, which made Eli realize that maybe his father really was changing. Being sober seems to agree with him. The day wasn’t a waste in terms of hiding from his family. A waste in a day with the investigation, but otherwise he was glad that he went, and he was glad he had Molly by his side.

“If in fact, I breed, and I allow my child to be that rude and inconsiderate, please have me imprisoned.” Molly said.

“I promise.” Well, at least they agreed on something.

Chapter 11:

Eli tapped his pen on the desk, driving Molly crazy. It had to be the most annoying sound, next to Kendra’s tongue clicking. She realized that he was thinking. He had murmured something about losing control last night in his sleep, and then had gritted his teeth. So Eli was a talk-in-his-sleep kind of guy. It was no worse than somethings past men in her life used to do in their sleep.

Molly got up and paced the room. Something she thought he did when he was thinking really hard, but apparently he only did that when he was thinking semi-hard. When she realized what she just thought, she giggled out loud.

“What?”

“Um, nothing. I was just thinking.”

“Thinking that required a giggle?” He raised an eyebrow.

“It wasn’t anything to do with the case.”

“That’s why I’m questioning it. We should be thinking about the case.” Eli chided.

Why did she always manage to find another control freak like herself? And why did this particular control freak have to be so damn hot? She couldn’t focus and apparently if Eli knew that she couldn’t focus, he would get mad at her. Molly didn’t want that. She just wanted her sweet, funny, non-control freak Eli back.

Molly sat down on the corner of the bed and sighed. She wasn’t sure that the two of them could close the insurance case or the fact that Mrs. Hollingsworth was missing. If she knew anything that usually three months is a little long to be hopeful.

“How badly do we want into the clinic? I think I have enough proof that there is definite insurance fraud going on.” Molly stated loudly.

“I need to get in there. Somehow, your case is connected to my case.” Eli said as he finally stopped tapping the pen. His eyes met hers, and he knew she was thinking the same thing. “For some reason, those papers didn’t just get thrown out randomly.”

He shuffled through a bunch of papers. As did Molly. They worked in silence for a bit, both thinking about how they can get some time inside the clinic.

“Alright, what’s next?”

“How do you feel about being pregnant?”

“Didn’t I do this angle before?” Molly asked, remembering the angle that Nick and Eli had stuck her in during the Marceno case months ago. The look Eli was giving

her really made her realize just how personal this case has become to him. Something he’s going to have to learn not to do. “Fine.”

“I’ll get your coat.”

“Wouldn’t you laugh if I actually was?” She joked, apparently he didn’t find it funny. “I’m not, and for starters I can’t get knocked up in a few days.”

Eli nearly had a heart attack when Molly made that joke. He had heard of men’s hearts going into rapid palpitation but that was just wrong.

The air outside was freezing and the wind smacked their faces like a wet towel being snapped on bare skin, Eli thought. He knew Molly felt that way too since she kept moving her head from side to side, like she was trying to avoid it.

Eli tucked her in close to him in order to keep her from blowing away. They walked up the steps to the walk-in clinic and immediately felt the warm air hit them when they opened the front door. As usual, the twins were at their respective desks, Lona wearing an ugly green knitted sweater, which clearly was a bunch of moth’s lunch at one time, and Rona was wearing a denim jumper which covered the picture of a white fur-ball of a cat in a basket full of flowers on her sweatshirt.

“Good morning, Ms. Lieber,” he greeted.

Lona Lieber lifted her head up, her smile faltering once she saw them, “Mr. Savidis. Mrs. Savidis.”

Molly looked at Eli with the same question on her mind. She turned back to Lona, “how are you doing today?” The woman just stared at her. “Um, OK then. I was wondering if I could see Dr. Lieber today?”

“Insurance please,” demanded Lona.

“Ms. Lieber,” Eli began, “my insurance for my new job won’t kick in for a least a few more months.”

“The two of you have come in here enough as it is, and we can no longer take you until you the proper insurance.” Lona Lieber responded harshly, exchanging glances with her sister.

“I’m aware of that, and I agreed to pay cash, up front until we can get our insurance in place.” Eli tried explaining.

“Plans changed,” said Rona Lieber from her desk behind them. “The doctor’s had a meeting Friday night and they agreed. No insurance, no treatment.”

“It’s just that Dr. Lieber has seen my file, and he knows how hard it has been for us to get pregnant, and I very well could be.” Molly pleaded, her eyebrows tilting up to give her a look of sadness.

“Not our problem,” snapped Lona.

Eli escorted Molly out of the warmth and back into the freezing cold. The sister’s demeanor had drastically changed towards them. He wondered if they knew that Molly was snooping around on Friday.

They got into his jeep, and just sat there. Both of them in obvious disbelief. It was obvious that something was going on . Eli started the jeep once he realized that he was freezing, and then looked over at Molly. She was thinking, and he knew that because she was attempting at chewing on her nail through her gloves, and had chewed right through.

“Like dog like owner,” he said as he pushed in the clutch and shifted into reverse.

“huh, what?”

“I should start calling you Chewbacca because of the way you’re going at your glove.” Eli chuckled.

She looked down at her hands, and her eyes widened at the damaged glove, then sat on both hands. A few seconds passed then she spoke, “I was just thinking of a way that we could get back into that clinic.”

“Chew our way through the siding?” He paused as he turned left at a set of lights, careful not to fishtail in the slush. “Other than chewing on your glove, did you come up with anything constructive.”

“I’m not sure I like you right now.” She spoke. He laughed. Then she realized what she said and how ridiculous it sounded. “Fine. I did come up with something believe it or not.”

“And would Molly like to share her idea with the class?” He joked.

“OK, that’s just creepy, and no, not yet. I want to see if it pans out first.” Molly informed him. Slightly amused by his jokes and slightly annoyed as well.

He dropped her off at the hotel and then headed out to pick up some supplies, which Eli didn’t elaborate on.

Molly was happy to be indoors where it was warm. Ordinarily she was partial to cold and cooler temperatures, but not when it’s so cold that it felt like all her insides were frozen.

Changing into a pair of gray and pink yoga pants with matching hoodie, Molly

grabbed her cell phone and proceeded to work on her plan and sat propped up against the pillows on the bed.

“Birkmount Insurance Broker, how may I help you?” The peppy woman on the other end greeted.

“Mr. Timothy Birkmount, please. It’s Molly Westin calling.” She was told please hold, and was now listening to really bad instrumental versions of already horrible show tunes.

“Ms. Westin, this is Tim. Please tell me you have good news,” the deep voice penetrated right through the phone asked.

“Actually I have both, good and bad news for you.” Molly explained that she’s collected quite a lot of circumstantial evidence, but wasn’t exactly ready to close it yet. “We are actually ready for a major break through.”

“That’s excellent,” Mr. Birkmount exclaimed. “So what’s the bad news?”

“The problem is, myself and my partner no longer have access to the clinic. We’ve been operating under cover in order to gain access, and it was working. Up until today that is.” She continued to explain their cover to the man who hired her.” He didn’t quite understand how a walk-in clinic could actually deny medical care to any paying patient, Molly explained that they have requested insurance.

“This one hiccup has prevented you from moving forward, what can I do to help you out?” He asked.

It was the opening that Molly wanted. “This might be a lot to ask, and we can take any charges out of the cost of my fee, but I was wondering if you could give us fake insurance.” Molly asked. “Eli is positive that we will only need it this one time in order to wrap things up, and I have to agree with him.”

Mr. Birkmount was quiet for a few minutes. “Alright, how do you want to do this?”

Molly smiled. She would have high-fived herself if she could. “The insurance needs to be under the last name Savidis.” She spelled it out for him. “First names, Nick and Molly.” She gave him all the pertinent information needed to help them inside.

“I will courier over all the forms as soon as possible.” Mr. Birkmount stated.

Molly told him how much she appreciated his help, just as Eli entered the room. “Thanks again.” She hung up her cell.

Eli put some bags down then removed his boots and gloves. His cheeks were really pink, and when he pulled off the stupid winter hat he was wearing his hair was

sticking up in all different directions. He was the epitome of cute. Manly yet boyish, and he made her heart pound. “Who was that?” He asked as he unzipped his coat.

Molly got to her knees and waddled to the foot of the bed, tossing the pad of paper she was doodling on during the phone call behind her on the bed. “I called the Insurance broker who hired me.”

“Are you wearing a thong or nothing?” Eli asked, then winked at her. Molly looked tilted her head, making her pony tail swing. He leaning around and was looking at her butt.

Snapping her fingers, “Eli babe, up here.” He looked at her, in the eyes this time. “As I was saying.” Once she had his full attention she told him about the phone call she made to Tim Birkmount.

“You are not only smart, sexy, and beautiful, but you, Molly-my-dear, are a freakin’ genius.” Eli stood against the foot of the bed in front of her, and leaned down and kissed. His tongue pressing against her lips, seeking entry. She wanted to taste him so badly that she opened her mouth, and as he slipped his tongue inside her mouth, she slipped hers into his. The kiss quickly turned hot and passionate. Eli was eating at her mouth like he would his favourite ice cream. Just as soon as they both got really into it, and she was pulling him down on to the bed, Eli pulled back. “As much as I would really love to go further, we really need to work on this case.”

She kissed his stubbly chin, “yes we do.”

Eli stepped away from her and went over to the bags be brought in. “First, I need to make a bug to plant inside the house. Second, we’ll need ice cream. I got you lemon drop gelato, ’cause you always hat it in your freezer.”

“I love lemon drop.” She smiled. Molly was impressed that he paid so much attention to her, but she was also falling head over heels in love with him. She had a feeling this wasn’t going to end well. Maybe she needed to remember what Kendra said. Stop sabotaging it before it really begins.

“I know, thirdly, I rented a really cool movie.” He reached in the one bag and gently tossed the DVD to her.

“Dark Rising?” She turned it over in her hands looking at it. “Never heard of it before.”

“It’s a Canadian movie. It’s kind of a mockery of horror films. Plus there is this really funny guy in the film. He totally cracks me up.” Eli winked and took the ice cream and gelato to the window, and surveyed the ledge before carefully placing both containers on the ledge.

“How are you making a bug? We have some at the office, I can get Kendra to

bring down.” Molly asked.

“That’s all fine and dandy,” he paused turned his head slightly, “did I just say dandy?”

“Yep.”

Shaking his head, “anyways, the type I’m making will be better because we won’t have to be so close to listen in. We can stay right here in our cozy little room.”

“How?”

Eli reached inside another one of the bags, and pulled out a soddering tool, some wires, wire strippers and cutters and two disposable cell phones. “I wire this cheap cell phone with some of the innards of the more expensive cell phone, then switch the batteries. A cheap cell phone usually has a wider reception, which usually picks up everything, including land line phone conversations. But the battery power sucks so you switch the batteries. Then I wire the inside of the phone with the some of the more expensive phone’s insides, not all because I still need the wider range of the cheap phone, but enough that I can attach another wire to the expensive phone so that when and if the battery power runs out before we have anything on the cheap phone, it’ll automatically trip the second phone and act as a back up.”

Molly was turned on beyond belief. “You have no clue how much that just made me want to ride you like a mechanical bull.” Eli smiled. “Seriously, how the hell did you learn how to do that?”

“Television.”

“What?””

“Yeah seriously, there’s some shows on TV about spies, and they did this thing with the cell phones. And I thought it was all crap, but my curiosity got the better of me and I tried it and sure enough, it worked. Maybe not quite like the way these guys on TV do it, but it is possible.” Eli explained.

Oh yeah, Molly was turned on. She knew he was smart, organized and skilled, but she didn’t realize he was a total nerd in a hot, sexy wrapped up present. “Do you have to make this bug right now?”

“Why?” Eli asked as he opened up the packaging from the soddering tool. Molly unzipped her hoodie and tossed it at him. He turned and saw her without her bra. “Oh hell no.” He dropped the packaging and went to her.

Scooping Molly up in his arms and carried her to the side of the bed, he managed to take her nipple into his mouth. She moaned. “I’m not wearing any underwear, to answer your earlier question.”

“Are you sure you’re real, and not just a fantastic wet dream I’m having?”

Molly grabbed his and placed it between her legs where she was so wet and ready for him, “you tell me.”

Chapter12:

Kendra responded to the silent alarm from the office. The excessive beeping from her computer at two in the morning woke her up. The last thing she wanted was to do was drive to her office this late in a blizzard, but it was part of her job.

Her Honda Civic fishtailed into her parking spot as she pulled in. Pulling on her hat, she raced from the car to the door of the office which was situated on the main floor. Originally they had an office on the second level, except the space was a bit too small for them so the chose the main floor.

Kendra walked in, cautiously, and turned the alarm off. It seemed as if whoever was there was gone or hadn’t been there in the first place. She was the last one to leave at nine o’clock, just five hours ago. Hailey had the day off in order to work at her other job. She moved further into her office and that’s when she knew someone had indeed been there.

“Nick?” She called out. Kendra could smell his cologne. He didn’t answer so she proceeded further down the hall. Her office door was open, as was the storage room. Anger settled in. What the hell was he up to?

She pushed the door to her office fully open and saw a huge bouquet of purple hydrangea’s and yellow roses. Naturally she would never have paired the yellow and the purple on it’s own, but she assumed he put yellow roses in as a way to apologize. Kendra took the card and read it out loud, “Ken, sorry to have to break-in, but I needed to borrow a few things. Trust me on this, you’ll thank me later,” the card was signed, “Nick.”

Tossing the note on to her desk, she dashed off down the hall to their storage room. Everything was organized so she knew where things were. And now, things were clearly riffled through. A few listening devices were taken, tools, a gun which fired bean bag rounds, and of course some bean bags. “Bugger!”

She was so incredibly sexy when she was pissed off, and right now, she was pissed at him. Nick knew she would be, which was why he buttered her up with the flowers, although he realized that seemed to piss her off more. The wind was whipping her hair around her face as she walked to her car. She was wearing a hat that reminded him of the one John Lennon used to wear in the early Beatles days. It made her looks sexy. She fumbled around with her keys looking for the one to unlock her car with. A few seconds later, the lights on her Civic flashed and she was getting inside.

Nick waited to start his car in the parking lot across from Kendra’s office. At this time of night it would be too easy to give away the fact he was planning on following her. He wanted to make sure she got home safe. She started to pull out of the parking lot and he only hoped that she would take it a lot easier than when she pulled in. He thought about disconnecting the alarm system before entering, but he really wanted to see her again.

Kendra drove slower, and was a lot more cautious in her driving, and Nick managed to keep a safe distance back. Visibility sucked because of the blowing snow so he figured he was alright. She would be paying more attention to what was in front of her, then what was behind her. As he prepared to turn right at the stop lights, he noticed that her blinker was indicating she was going left instead. Maybe she did know someone was tailing her. “Good girl, baby-doll.”

As he followed her, she was getting further away from her home. She made another left turn, then a right, and pulled into a townhouse complex before parking her car next to a black Dodge Caliber. Before she got out, the front door opened and the guy he saw her with before at her pool came out. He was shirtless, sporting his muscular arms, shoulders and stomach, and the tattoos circled his arms and when he walked her from the car inside, that one across his shoulder blades taunted Nick. What was she doing here with gigantor?

Nick’s good mood, just went up in flames.

That stupid Star Wars theme was playing in her head again. Molly opened her eyes hoping that it would stop. She was nestled close to Eli, wanting to get back the sexy dream she was having about him. She closed her eyes again and then the snapped open. It was her damn cell phone. She rolled away from Eli and grabbed her phone as she grabbed the hotel robe from the floor. She left it there after her late night shower with the sex king who was still asleep in their bed.

She headed into the bathroom, closed the lid on the toilet and sat down. It was Kendra. “Do you have any idea what time it is?”

“Yep.” Kendra paused, “it’s eleven-thirty. Don’t tell me you were still sleeping?”

“Ah-huh,” Molly yawned.

“Some dick-headed former detective broke in and stole from us last night.” Kendra snapped.

“Well, that answered that question.”

“Which question?”

“The one where I was about to ask you, why you were calling, but you just answered it.” Molly scratched her shoulder. “So what did he take?”

“Some tools, listening devices, our bean bag shooter and some bean bags. He left me some flowers with a note on it. He broke in at two in the morning during a blizzard.” Kendra bitched.

Molly wasn’t really in the mood for this, as she just woke up and was still processing that it was almost noon and that she and Eli had some major work to be doing. “At least he could have cut the alarm so he didn’t drag you all the way out there.”

“Not the point Molls.” Kendra talked over the dogs barking in the background.

“Where are you?” Molly asked.

“I am standing in my kitchen, watching the dogs play in the snow. Chewbacca just kicked-up snow on Hardy.”

“Good boy. I miss my boy.”

“He misses you too. But we can discuss that later. What the hell are we going to do about Nick?”

Molly stood up and lifted the lid to the toilet. She had to pee super bad. “Nothing. It’s not like he told you what they were for or where he was going. He will bring them back eventually, or we can just bill him, and bill him tons of extra money for putting you through stress.”

“I stayed at Matt’s last night because the roads and visibility sucked donkey nuts.” Kendra stated.

“Um, do you think that was a good idea?” Molly asked as she flushed. She washed her hands as she waited for Kendra to stop rolling her eyes and answer.

“Nothing happened. We’re just friends. I called him from the office and asked, and he yelled at me for not calling him to go check out the alarm since he is closer.”

“I guess dick-head can do something right then.” Molly opened the door and checked on Eli. He was cuddling her pillow and drooling. He was so cute.

“I should let you go. I need to get to the office before Hailey. I freaked out and ripped the alarm thingy off the wall. I should be there to explain to her.” Kendra said, and Molly laughed. “Talk to you later, and say hi to lover-boy for me.”

“Hey, no teasing.”

“Ha-ha!”

Molly ran a brush through her hair after hanging up from her phone call. She had some major knots going on and needed to get them out. She was looking funky this morning, and not in a good way.

She opened the door to see Eli closing the one to the hallway outside their room. He was holding a courier package. It was their insurance, Mr. Birkmount came through

and he came through fast. Eli yawned and scratched his stomach. He handed the couriered package over to Molly as he kissed her on the forehead.

“Gotta pee,” was all he said as he shuffled lazily into the bathroom.

Molly knew what that felt like so she sat on the foot of the bed and opened up her package. Sure enough, all the proper forms giving them insurance were there. Now they could head into the clinic and start a more detailed investigation. She was reading over the forms when she felt Eli straddle behind her, encasing his legs around her, and then his arms.

“It’s really late.” Molly smiled as she loved the way he made her feel.

“I know but I could stay like this all day, except I need to get a hold of Nick.” Eli said as he held her tighter against him.

She could feel his penis get hard again against her lower back. Molly could go another round before heading out for the day. “That probably won’t do you any good.” Then she told him how Nick broke into their office and “borrowed” some of their supplies. She could tell by the look on Eli’s face in the mirror that he was none to pleased. “I don’t know what he was up to, or why he would need it, but he did and Kendra is livid.”

“No doubt,” Eli stood up, letting go of her. “I should try him regardless. We could need back-up.”

“Call Kendra, because the way she is feeling right now, she’s more than a little ready for kicking some ass.” Molly laughed. Eli gave her a his cute half smile as he dialed Nick’s number.

“I don’t want to put her in any danger, as it is, I don’t want to put you in any danger.” Eli left a message.

“Danger turns me on.”

Eli looked at her, cocked an eyebrow, which wasn’t the only thing cocked, and said “is that so?”

“No time, as much as I would like to, we slept way too long today. We need to get this show on the road.” Molly stood up and grabbed her clothes and took them into the bathroom as to not get further behind on schedule than they already were. If she changed in front of Eli, then they would never make it out of the room. She wanted him so bad, that if he changed in front of her, it would be the same deal. Eli made her lose her focus, especially when he was naked.

Quickly, she changed into a pair of jeans, and hunter green sweater with three-quarter length sleeves. It was loose at the neck and hung off one shoulder, but it was one

of her favourites. It made her blue eyes turn a bit green. She quickly applied some make-up, trying to enhance her natural beauty. She was lucky, she had natural porcelain skin, and all she had to do was hide the odd small blemish, and make her eyes pop out. Never took her too long. The trick was to make it look as if she wasn’t wearing any make-up at all. And today, success!

Eli was putting on his socks while sitting on the corner of the bed. He was wearing jeans, a white t-shirt under a button-up collared shirt which was done up half way. His hair was brushed forward, making him look really silly. Molly pursed her lips together and walked over and mused it.

“Hey!”

“It looked really stupid. I like it better messy.” She said. “Sorry.”

He touched his hair gently, “no big deal.”

“I think it’s funny,” she paused, “you are so well put together, neat and organized, but your hair is always messy, but I love that about you.”

Eli smiled, “thanks sweet cheeks.” He stood up, and was watching her in the mirror putting in her earrings, they were just small simple gold hoops but he was watching like he was interested in everything she did. “You might not like what I have to say next.”

“What’s that?”

“If we go in there with this pregnancy story, and this is something we never thought about yesterday.” She nodded. “They are going to want to do an examination.”

“What?” Her jaw dropped, and she spun around on her heels. Molly couldn’t believe that Eli was saying this. This had to be the stupidest idea they have ever came up with.

“Time I guess you take one for the team, huh?”

Chapter 13:

“I would like to state for the record,” Molly began as they sat in the waiting room at the Lieber House Walk-In Clinic, “that I am not happy.”

Eli looked over at her, she was hiding her dismay with the plan rather well. All except with the nail biting. Luckily that could just be mistaken for nerves of a pending pregnant woman. He never thought of what the plan would entitle until he his ex-girlfriend’s appointment with the doctor’s when she thought she was pregnant. Thankfully, she wasn’t because Eli knew she would have made a horrible mother. Molly on the other-hand, would be a great mother. He shook the thought from his head.

He reached over and clutched her hand, then leaned into whisper into her ear, “remember, I’m going to insist that I call my mother or someone, and so you go ahead into the appointment without me. I’ll be here when you get out.”

“Not happy!” She said through clenched teeth.

“I know, and I’m sorry. If we have to get back in here again, and I’m hoping we don’t, it will be my turn to take one for the team.” Eli hoped that would make her feel better. She smiled. Great his little plan worked.

“I hope we do because then you can schedule yourself in for a prostate exam.”

Eli nearly choked on his own spit, “really? You would put me through that?”

Molly turned in her chair, glared at him for what felt like ten minutes then said, “don’t get me started, if we have to do this again, it will be your turn. I don’t care what the doctor does to your pooper, because I’m allowing this freak-a-zoid to go up my hoo-ha, so don’t tell me that I wouldn’t put you through an ass exam, because right now, I’m not thinking twice about it.”

“OK I get that you’re mad.” She glared again and he shut up. There was no way Eli was going to be the brunt of that angry outburst she just had. He sat still, waiting for the doctor to show up. Molly was no digging her nails into the skin on his hand. “Ow.”

“Too bad.”

“Molly Savidis,” Doctor Harold Lieber called. Eli escorted Molly over to the doctor, who glared at him. “Mr. Savidis, I’m sorry but it’s policy that the initial exam be done in private, with myself and Nurse Rona.”

Perfect, they were leaving him alone. “Well I was sort of hoping to be with my wife doc, but I understand policy.” He said with a look of shear disappointment on his face.

As Rona and Dr. Lieber walked with Molly down the hall, she looked over her

shoulder, and then stuck her tongue out at him. Lona happened to catch the action, and Eli turned to her, “we had a little argument this morning. She’s a bit angry at me still.”

“It happens.” Lona responded. A patient appeared from outside, making Lona busy. “Well Dr. Jonathan Lieber is busy with a patient right now. He should be about fifteen minutes, so if you won’t mind having a seat.” She said to the old man standing up, balancing on a cane.

Perfect, both doctors, and Rona were busy right now, and there was no way Lona could leave her desk while no one else was around. In fact, she would be busy manning both desks. Eli slipped into the hallway and grabbed his phone. Dialing Nick’s number in hope of getting a hold of him, he slowly made his way up the stairs of the house.

Molly changed into the paper gown that Rona gave to her. She was going to kill Eli when this was done. She wasn’t quite sure what she was in for, but if her conversations with Hailey while she was carrying Megan and Sheldon were an indication, then she was in for hell, and all for nothing. Maybe they would do the abdomen thing, where they pressed down and find out that there was nothing in there, and she wouldn’t have to have the internal ultrasound. There was a knock on the door, since both Doctor and crazy nurse left her to change. While she changed she searched for stuff but came up empty. “Come in, I’m ready.”

“Alright now Mrs. Savidis, why don’t we start with a few questions, shall we?” Dr. Lieber stated as he sat down in his chair, next to her a pile of paper, which resembled her phony medical file.

“We could just throw all convention to the wind and you can just call me Molly, since we’re about to get intimately acquainted here doc.” She joked. He looked up at her, and she gave a nervous smile. “No seriously, please call me Molly, Mrs. Savidis is my mother,” she paused, shit that didn’t sound right, and judging from the look on Rona and the doctor’s faces, it wasn’t. “in-law. Mrs. Savidis is my mother-in-law, and nobody wants to be their mother-in-law.” Especially her since if Mrs. Savidis was to be her mother-in-law, then she would be dead. “Sorry, I babble when I’m nervous.”

Rona looked at her brother Harold, then turned to Molly, “if it would help we can have your husband come in here to help keep you from being too nervous.”

“No,” Molly stated, “I mean, I would love that but Nick has a bit of a gag reflex, he might not be ready to bare witness to, well things.” They nodded like the understood. Oh God Molls, shut the hell up, she said in her mind.

“When was your last period?” The doctor asked.

Eli went over all this with her, she was suppose to say two months, no, was it three? Shit she couldn’t remember. “I think it was, about two and a half months ago. Give or take.” Ha! She would settle on the in-between.

He wrote it down, “and you are aware that this could be a long shot, right? Considering your history.”

“Yes I understand. Doesn’t hurt to check though, does it?” She asked, pretending that she’s hopeful.

Dr. Lieber asked her some more questions and then asked her to get up on the little bed that had a plush leather mattress, covered in paper. Molly was more nervous than anything, but he would begin with pressing on her abdomen. He will realize that she isn’t pregnant then. Yep, that’s what would happen. “I’m going to press down on your abdomen.” He did as she predicted.

The doctor pushed gently down on her abdomen and then looked up at his sister, the nurse standing across from him. So far, Molly’s plan was working. Given the looks that were being exchanged between Rona and Dr. Lieber, there was going to be no further examination. Molly felt his hand leave her tummy.

She started to sit up, “sorry Molly, we’re not done yet. We still need to do the internal examination.” Her eyes nearly fell out of their sockets.

Eli couldn’t stand the smell of the upstairs area. It reeked of burnt exotic food, and bleach. Lots of bleach. Inside his head that set off warning bells. It was then and there that he decided that he’s going to get some luminol to carry so that if he needs to see if there is blood anywhere then he could, he can’t go on naked eye alone, but in his gut, he knew. Mrs. Hollingsworth was likely murdered here in this house.

He walked into the kitchen as quietly as he could. Old homes like this often had creaky boards, and so far he’s been lucky. Eli just paid attention to the ware patterns on the floors, especially the carpeting and avoided those areas. The kitchen had very old cabinets and really nasty looking hardware. The oven and fridge were in early avocado colouring, and there was no dishwasher. The linoleum on the floor had some holes in it from the 1970’s chairs, with vinyl cushions, slid back. The walls were lined with faux brick, which were plastic when he touched them. Through the kitchen, there was an outside exit, which he found good to know in case he needed to make an escape. In fact that would be how he would leave so that Lona thought he went outside to make his phone call.

Eli made his way from the kitchen to the living room, four arm chairs were lined up in front of an old television counsel which sat on the floor. Lots of knick-knacks decorated the entire room. It smelled like cat piss. So they definitely weren’t all that clean. A black cat with one eye glared at him from the top of the television. He nearly jumped out of his skin as he thought it was a statue, until it opened it’s one good eye. “Fucking creepy cat, how fitting.”

In the living room a set of bi-fold doors sat to the left hand side of the room.

There was an out of place glow coming from slots in the door, and Eli walked carefully over the carpeting to find out.

Opening the doors really slowly, he discovered, seven computers. All of them on, and running the Internet. He leaned back out the doors to check the hallway. Nobody was coming. He pulled one of the big flash drives from his pants pocket and inserted it into the first computer. Molly told him to be smart and bring more than one, so he stopped and picked up a package of six from the Business Depot. He got to work, plugging in flash drives and started downloading as much information as he could. While that was going on, he took the bug he made from the cell phones and placed it in the living room behind a bookcase that was close to the bi-fold doors where the computers lived.

He just finished in time, and collected the last flash drive when he heard foot steps coming up the stairs. They sounded like they were from a man, probably Jonathan Lieber. Eli gently closed the bi-fold doors, and dashed down the hall and slipped into the kitchen. He hid around the corner near the door to the outside as he saw a shadow in the hallway approach. Please go to the computers, please go to the computers, Eli said to himself over and over again as he held his breath. Sure enough, he heard the doors to where the computers were open.

Slowly, he reached for the door knob to the outside door and opened it. As quickly, but as quietly as he could manage, he started down the stairs. One creaked, there was no time to just make a run for it, so he hopped his butt on the wooden banister, prayed for no splinters in his ass, and slid the way down and then sat on the bottom step and pretended to talk on his cell phone, but instead listened into what was going on in the room upstairs. Someone checked out the window, his heart was pounding in his chest, but all he heard them say on the other end was, “it’s just some guy talking on his cell phone. He planted his bottom on the bottom step.” Then he heard a female voice, “oh that’s the husband to the woman with the fake pregnancy.”

Shit! Eli got up and left his phone on in his pocket. He walked to the front of the house and up to the front door and went inside. Molly was just talking to Rona about the appointment. Rona kept telling her it was going to be alright.

“Molly, honey, what’s wrong?” Eli faked concern.

She sniffed, “the doctor said I had a hysterical pregnancy.”

Eli thought that was a much better way of saying fake, but he would take it. Eli wrapped his arms around his “wife” and consoled her. “I’m sorry sweetheart. I guess we’ll just keep trying then. It’ll happen sooner or later.” He smiled his thanks to Rona, “now just give me a moment so I can take care of the insurance.”

“It’s already put through. You’re lucky your company gave you your insurance early.” Rona said, clearly digging. She was suspicious, and she had every right to be.

“I told them that we didn’t want to be without it, so they allowed us a temporary one. It’s hard not to have one. That seems to be when you need it the most.” She handed him back the insurance card, and he put it inside his wallet. He and Molly said their good-byes and started to the door. “Thank-you and have a nice day.”

The woman behind the desk just glared.

Once they were in the car Molly punched him in the arm. He was smart enough not to say anything this time around. He started the car and handed her the cell phone.

“The bug is planted, so if you want to listen to anything, just use the cell phone.” He explained. Molly placed the cell phone to her ear and listened. She was ignoring him. “Don’t you wanna know what I found?”

He could see her thinking. Does she ignore him completely, or does she give in and find out stuff first? Eli smiled. Molly put the phone in her lap, “well, what did you find?”

“First of all, I’m sorry you had to go through all that shit with doctor freak-a-zoid, but I think we have all the proof you need.”

Eli told her about the seven computers he found and how the extra flash drives proved to be quite valuable and told her that she was genius. That seemed to boost her spirits a bit more. Then he told her about the creepy one eyed cat on top of the television. “I swear to you, the place looked like it was vomited out of the All In The Family, and into Mr. Kotter’s mouth. It was bad. Fake plastic bricks on the wall, shitty linoleum on the kitchen floor. Poop brown carpeting in the living room. It was bad.”

“Sounds like it. I can’t wait to see what we’ve got. I’m still mad, and there is no way you are having your way with me later. I’ve had enough fingers in me for the day.”

“Ew,” was all he could manage.

“Ew is right. Well we still have that gelato to get into and that movie which we skipped last night.” He suggested as he drove them to their hotel. Molly moved uncomfortably in her seat. She wanted more. He couldn’t really blame her. “Do you want me to order pizza for dinner?”

“Um, sure.”

“Maybe run you a hot bath for you to have while I wait for the pizza?” He hinted.

He was getting warmer, Molly thought. She was still not very happy, and part of her wasn’t sure if an internal exam was really necessary after being pushed on. She would take whatever he was offering. The possibility that he ended her case was not good enough at this point. Molly wasn’t usually a selfish person but being probed will do that

to a girl.

After getting back to the hotel, and she was situated in the hot bubble bath, with the sent of strawberries assaulting her senses, Molly was feeling a whole lot more forgiving. He was ordering her favourite pizza, pepperoni, with extra cheese and green olives. He already gave her a tumbler with vodka and orange juice, and left her with the cell phone bug so that she can listen in. Eli was out in the other room, waiting for the pizza and going over the information on the flash drives he collected.

Molly looked down at her fingers and noticed they were all wrinkled, a sure sign that she had been in there long enough. She got out, dried off and put her poodle jammies on.

“Anything?” Eli asked as she opened the door.

She shook her head, “nope, Rona and Lona are watching Wheel of Fortune, and they suck at it.”

“How’d you do?”

“Damn good if I may say so myself, considering I couldn’t see what order the letters were in.”

“I heard you yelling out strange phrases in there, but I decided you had a rough day and if you wanted to yell from the bath tub, the by all means.” Eli smiled at her.

“Thanks.” Molly flopped down on the bed, still feeling a bit sore down in the nether regions. Eli tossed her the remote control, and she flipped to Jeopardy. There was no way that she could listen in on the Lieber sisters and them playing Jeopardy, and watch something else. “Did you get anything?” She propped up their multitude of pillows.

“Yeah I did. I have pretty much everything you need to take to Mr. Birkmount to close your case, although I’m looking for more. More is better.”

“What is, potassium?!” Molly shouted. Eli looked at her strange, “sorry, just answering. Yes more is better. Like what?”

Eli got up and answered the knock at the door, he paid the pizza man and turned around, carrying a piping hot, Pizza Hut pizza. She knew that laid in that box, was a stuffed crust pizza, and she then realized, Eli was the man of her dreams. “Like, over one hundred false claims from dead people.”

Her jaw dropped, “you ordered extra green olives.” She was peering at the pizza. “You are not only my favourite man right now because you got me extra green olives, but you’re my hero for helping me solve my case.”

“I know.” He kissed her before snatching a piece of pizza from her precious box of stuffed crust.

Chapter 14:

Molly was looking over the morning news paper while Eli was in the shower. She sipped on her coffee and turned the page. Something small caught her eye, and on a normal day, Molly wasn’t sure that she would even catch an article so small. “Elderly Woman’s Body Found on Beach”, Molly put her cup on the desk and continued reading.

The name of the victim was Evis Hollingsworth, and her name practically jumped off the page at her. “Eli!” She jumped up, still clutching the paper and rand to the bathroom, “Eli!”

The water shut off, and Molly opened the door. “What’s going on Molls?” He asked as he grabbed a towel from behind the shower curtain.

“The police found Mrs. Hollingsworth’s body a few days ago.” She rattled the paper at him. Molly watched s he climbed out of the shower with the towel wrapped around his waist. He froze on the bath mat. “Eli, your missing person is no longer miss but she’s,” Molly watched his eyes. They were no longer meeting hers. As she stood there, her heart pounding fast and hard in her chest, she put all of the pieces together. Starting with how strange he was acting last Sunday evening, which would have been the day Mrs. Hollingsworth’s body had been found. The lack of surprise now, and his lack of eye contact. He knew, and he kept it from her. Molly felt her face grow hot. “You lied to me.”

“Molly, I…”

“No! You don’t get to speak right now.” She said quietly, but with authority. “I had put my trust in you with my case, and I expected you to do the same. I told you everything, and yet you kept something so important from me.”

“I did it to protect you.” Eli followed her from the bathroom. She wished he didn’t, it was hard enough yelling at him, but it was made worse because he was naked under that towel.

“Please shut up.” Molly fought back tears, “you slept with me that night to stop me from asking you questions. You probably solved my case too, so that it would appease any guilt you were feeling.”

Eli grabbed his jeans and pulled them on. “No, I helped you finish your case because I wanted you safe. I want you to go back home, without a scratch.”

“Both our cases are over now, so does it matter?” Molly spoke quietly as she crossed her arms under her breasts.

“Mine isn’t. I still don’t know who was stealing from Mrs. Hollingsworth, or who killed her.” Eli pulled on a t-shirt from the drawer.

Molly could hardly believe this. They made a deal and he expects her to go home while he plays detective. As much as she was angry, she was also feeling used. He slept with her for the wrong reasons. Did very intimate stuff to her body, all the while he was lying. “You’re not a cop any more Eli, and this is the type of thing that private investigators leave to the real police. All you are now, is a lacky. We do the leg work for the police, and then they get all the glory, so you better get used to it.”

“Molls.”

“Don’t call me that!” She yelled, “you lost that privilege when you decided to lie to me and kept this from me.” She threw the news paper at him.

“I didn’t use you for sex that night in order to keep from telling you things. I chose not to tell you that my case was now a murder case because,” he yelled back, “I wanted to get your case done first. Do you know why I was so intent on helping you on your case this week?”

Molly wasn’t sure she wanted to hear this. Eli was getting angry.

“I needed all the information you found on Mrs. Hollingsworth to connect the Lieber’s to her death and her missing money.” He swallowed his sip of coffee. “And now, I have it. You’re going home so these psychopaths don’t hurt you.”

“I can take care of myself.” She snapped.

The vain on his forehead popped out, “no you can’t. Playing house is one thing, but tracking down an entire family of sociopaths, who kill helpless old people for money, is out of your league.”

His words stung, but Molly couldn’t let him see that. She had one major card that she was holding. “Get out of this room and find another hotel room, because I am NOT paying for you any more. Your free ride is over, so pack up your shit and get the fuck out.” Molly stomped over to the bathroom, turned around, “when I come out, you better be gone.” Then she slammed the door.

Eli flinched as she closed, no, slammed the door. He hated seeing her face get all blotchy from holding in her tears. Tears which he caused and hated that he did. Eli had to, because he needed to protect her, and if that meant hurting her in the process, then he had no choice. But it still broke his heart.

He packed up everything, including the copies he made of her case. Once he had all he needed, he would take it all to the police. Needing Nick desperately to come in from this, he picked up his cell phone from the bedside table and dialed. Again no answer. Clipping his phone to his hip, he picked up his stuff, looking once over his shoulder at the bathroom door. “I love you Molls,” he whispered.

Molly broke all sorts of traffic violations on her way home. Luckily she didn’t get pulled over, and the way she was feeling the cop who could have pulled her over would have been treated quite poorly. She was angry and heartbroken, but why did that surprise her? She knew it was going to happen.

She pulled her Matrix into the spot next to Kendra’s Civic, and Hailey’s Honda C-RV. She had never been so happy in her life then to know for sure that her two girls are inside. She stopped herself from running right into her office. Molly took a deep breath, checked her face, and then walked calmly into the office.

Molly was greeted first by a very happy poodle. Her dog jumped up on his hind legs and licked her face and neck like he hadn’t seen her in forever. And for her, it felt the same way. She was so happy to see her dog. Molly always hated leaving him behind. The more her dog jumped at her and licked her, the more she had to fight back the tears.

Hailey stood up from her desk and walked over to Molly. No doubt, her face said more than she had originally wanted it to say. Without a word, her older sister wrapped her in a hug and they just stood there, Chewbacca in the middle at their feet. It was exactly what Molly needed.

Kendra walked out of her office, tugging down her skirt, when she noticed Hailey comforting Molly. Something went wrong while she was shacking up with Eli. She didn’t think that he would be the type to screw with Molly’s feelings, unlike Nick, but she must have been wrong. With only a few wide steps, Kendra closed the gap between the hallway leading to the offices to the hug-fest going on.

“Tell us all about it,” Kendra said as she joined them in the hug.

“He,” she sobbed, “he, he, used m-me.”

“No he didn’t. You used him.” Hailey tried to comfort on her sister.

“Yeah that’s exactly it, you used him.” Kendra agreed. “How did you use him?”

Hailey shot her a look over Molly’s shoulder, so she shrugged because they needed to know what the hell happened. Molly pulled apart from the embrace and walked to the couch and plopped down. She cleared her face of the tears and took a deep breath before as calmly as she could explain, she waited a few moments before she did so. “We were basically working on our cases together, as it was an added benefit as you know. His missing woman eventually became linked to my case, so Eli kept close. He kept some major information to himself, and didn’t tell me, even after my case was over he still kept it from me.”

Kendra poured some coffee into Molly’s poodle mug then walked it over, “what

did he keep from you?”

“The fact that his missing person was found dead.” She took the mug from Kendra, “thanks.”

She winked at her friend then sat down on the couch, while Hailey took the other side of Molly.

“We had been sleeping together, as you both know, but I knew something was up on Sunday when he came back to the room, but instead of telling me that Mrs. Hollingsworth was found dead, despite the fact that I questioned him about what was wrong, he slept with me and never said a word.”

“That’s low.” Kendra understood.

“I’m so glad I’m married.” Hailey stated. “I don’t know how you girls do it. I am not as envious as I thought I would be.”

Molly laughed, and Kendra was happy to see that she was dealing with this better than she was when she came in. Molly continued to tell them about the fight they had after she confronted him with the newspaper.

“I hate to say this, Molls, but you two had a deal.”

“What are you talking about Ken?” Molly asked.

“The two of you made a deal to work together until the end, and you should. You should go there and close his frigging case so that he can learn from one of the best. Danger be damned.” Kendra stated.

“You know you’re right.” Molly agreed.

“Yeah I usually am, but just don’t get killed or else Eli will be right.” Kendra winked, then gave her a hug. “Go. Go back there and show him how to do this job.”

Kendra watched Molly get to her feet, and head to the door. “Chewbacca…”

“Will be fine at my house, as he has been since you left.” She reassured.

“Thanks!”

“Any time, now go!”

Chapter 15:

The sun was out in full force as Molly drove into Kennebunkport. It felt as if her entire day had been spent in her car and her sore ass was proof. She stopped at the café she favoured to grab a coffee and a danish before heading over to the Lieber’s.

Although her case was finished, she had yet to bring it to Tim Birkmount, which probably is a good thing since it would interfere with Eli getting his case finished. On her drive back to Kennebunkport, she decided to stake out the Lieber’s for a half an hour before checking into her hotel. Just to get a feel for it.

Parking down the street with an excellent view of the clinic where she could see not only the front of the clinic, but the side leading to the car port and side doors. With the binoculars in one hand, and her danish in the other, Molly sat back and waited as she watched the house.

Eli had just finished unpacking his stuff in his new hotel room. Thankfully he was able to get another room in the same hotel. He grabbed his file on Mrs. Hollingsworth and sat on the bed just as his cell phone rang. Hoping it was Nick, who was still incognito, he jumped up and made a mad dash for the desk where he’d left it. Looking at the caller I.D, he knew right away that it wasn’t Nick.

“Hello?” He answered.

“Mr. Savidis, Detective Scott here, do you have some time to come down to the station?”

“I do have some time.” Eli looked down at his watch, “I can be there in ten minutes.” Eli hung up and gathered all his files, just in case he needed them.

In exactly ten minutes, Eli walked into the police station, lap top bag full of his files hung over his shoulder. He asked for Detective Scott at the front desk, and was just about to sit down when the detective’s Scott and Brentwood came out and escorted him into an interview room. Eli didn’t like the way this was going and the detective’s must have sensed Eli’s sudden trepidation and told him to relax, “we just want some place private to talk and spread out.”

He still didn’t relax.

“Eli, can we can call you Eli?” Scott asked.

“Sure as long as I can call you guys Wayne and Michael.” Eli countered.

“Absolutely, that’s fine. We are all working together.” Detective Wayne Scott smiled.

Michael Brentwood handed Eli a pile of files, “we have connected ten other

deaths of elderly people to your missing person’s death.”

Shocked, Eli opened the folder on top and looked through it quickly, “serial killer?”

“We think so, but a very smart one.” Wayne added. “We thought you might be interested since things look similar.”

Brentwood leaned over the table, “time-line matches, ligature marks match, the cause of death’s have also been the same. There’s signs of dehydration and starvation as well in all ten cases prior to Mrs. Hollingsworth’s death.”

“May I take a few minutes to look over everything?” He asked and the detective’s obliged leaving Eli alone with the eleven cases. Eli took his time reading through the files, making the appropriate notes to line up victimology and mapping out other similarities. There was one thing missing in the first ten cases and something Eli needed in order to close in on these victims’ killers. Their account records.

He was just getting up to find the detective’s when they came in. “Didn’t you say that Mrs. Hollingsworth’s son called in multiple missing person reports?”

“Yes I did, why?” He remained standing.

Wayne scratched the back of his head, “we just checked, and no reports were filed.”

“He told me,” Eli grabbed his bag and pulled out some of his files, “that he called several times and each time he was given the brush off.” He found the forms that he had George fill out and handed them to Wayne.

“There’s another problem,” Wayne began as he looked over the forms Eli handed him. “We did a background check on George Hollingsworth,” Eli could already tell he wasn’t going to like this. “George Hollingsworth was listed as missing two and a half months ago by his employers.”

“Then who the hell hired me?” Eli freaked out.

“We don’t know, but we have a unit going over to the place of residence to arrest whoever is there.” Michael answered.

“I have a major favour to ask of your and your department,” he began, “is there anyway that you can get me the financial and account records of the first ten victims for the four months prior to their deaths?”

“Sure, it might take a while but we can get those for you.” Michael said as he wrote down Eli’s request.

“What for?” Wayne asked curiously.

“I might be able to find a connection between them and Hollingsworth’s which we found connected to a local clinic and an insurance fraud case that my partner is working on.” Eli felt horrible, but he needed to call Molly for two reasons.

He dialed her cell and waited. He wasn’t surprised when she didn’t answer, so he left a message, “Molly, it’s Eli, don’t delete this, please listen.” He said to her voice mail. “We just connected ten more elderly people’s deaths to Mrs. Hollingsworth. I really need your help. Can you please run down through your case these names?” Eli gave the ten names over the voice mail, “and Molly, I’m so sorry I hurt you. It never was my intention. I love you.”

Eli poured over all the files again as he waited for the report about the arrest of the phony George Hollingsworth. A young police woman brought him three of the ten accounts, “there’s more coming sir.”

“Thank-you very much.” He took the reports from the young woman.

Gradually Eli found connections. All eleven victims had been missing for three months before turning up dead in different parts all over the area. Three of the victims accounts mimicked that of Mrs. Hollingsworth’s, and had been cleared out within the first month, but then they stopped. Eli figured that’s when they were reported missing and the accounts were frozen. The next three reports came in and it was the same for the first two, but the last one was different. It had been cleared out twice before it was frozen.

He pulled each of the victims files back over and checked the missing persons reports. Grabbing the receiver of the phone left in the room, he dialed the number belonging to the daughter of the sixth victim and talked to her for about an hour. Thankfully she was willing to answer the question he was asking. When Eli asked why it took her so long to file the missing person’s report, her response was that she and her family were in England for a month and a half visiting her in-laws.

“How did you know your mother had been missing for two months?” He asked.

“I talked to her just before we left, and I tried her multiple times while we were gone and never got an answer. I got so worried that we came back early.” The victim’s daughter answered. “By the time we got home, here in Georgia, and ready to make the trip north, it had been about two months.”

“Thank-you for answering my questions, and I am very sorry for your loss. I hope that we can close this case and the other’s for you.” Eli hung up.

Finally the account information for the final four victims came in, and sure enough each person was reported missing after two months. The closer he looked, the more he realized that all the phone calls kept going to an answering machine, so the family assumed that their loved one was still alive. The Police could tell they were gone

for three months since all the other bills in the first month never got paid, just the phone bill. Just as Eli suspected.

Looking down at his watch, he realized that time that had passed and that Molly hadn’t called him back. Picking up his cell phone he called the office to speak to Kendra. If Molly wouldn’t help him, maybe Kendra would.

“Hey Kendra, sorry to bug you.”

“No problem, what’s up?” She asked.

“I haven’t been able to get a hold of Molly, and I really need her help on something. Think you could help me out?”

“I could give you shit for hurting my bestie, but she’s a big girl.” Kendra stated,

It was time he explained, “I did it on purpose and it just about killed me. My case has gotten rather dangerous and I just wanted her to be safe. Could you please help me?”

He could hear her shuffling papers around on her desk, “sure, what do you need?”

“I need you or her to go over her case files and look for some names, and then fax me over everything on each of those names. Providing you have them of course.” Eli asked.

“I can do it for you, she isn’t here but lucky for you I have her files and her reports on her case.” Kendra answered. “I’ll write the names down, see what I can find and I’ll fax them over to you at the hotel.”

“Thanks Kendra. Oh don’t hand in the reports to her client yet, if you can hold off that would be wonderful.”

“I wasn’t going to. Molly likes to do face to face meetings with her clients, and she went back to Kennebunkport. She should be there now, unless she’s stuck in traffic somewhere.”

His palms started to sweat, “I wish she had stayed in Glenberry. I’m too worried about her being here. Why is she here?”

“For you. Hailey got her another room at the same hotel as before, she was suppose to check in an hour ago so I assume she’s there already. Eli, if you need any help, just call me. Especially if she gives you a hard time.”

“Thanks Kendra. I’m leaving for the hotel in a few minutes.” Eli announced just before he disengaged the call.

After receiving permission, he photo copied the police files to take back with him

to the hotel to piece the cases together, and then signed an agreement saying that the information in his possession were to remain confidential and that legal action would be pursued if he broke said agreement.

He arrived at the hotel and checked in with the front desk to see if Kendra had faxed anything yet.

“Yes, sir, a whole stack just came through,” Billy the hotel clerk handed them over to him.

“Thank-you, you can add the cost on my hotel bill, please.” Eli said as he put the faxes from Kendra into his bag.

“Consider it done sir,” smiled the clerk. “May I inquire on whether or not you’ve seen Ms. Westin, sir?”

Eli’s head snapped up, “you mean she hasn’t checked in yet?” The man shook his head. “She should have been her over an hour ago.”

“That’s why I’m asking sir. It’s unlike her not to check in on time, and I know that you two are colleagues. Plus I don’t think I can hold on to her reservation much longer. My boss will have my job.”

“If she shows up, put her in my room, neither of us want you to lose your job.” Eli smiled and then headed up the giant stair case to the floor where his room is located all the while dialing his phone. “Kendra! Molly never checked in to the hotel.”

“Are you kidding me?” Kendra responded. “She should have checked in an hour ago, and if she was stuck in traffic she would have called to tell them to hold her room.”

Eli stuck the key into the lock and entered his room, “well she hasn’t. Do you have GPS tracker in her car or cell phone?”

“Yes and yes. The car will be easier to track, because if her cell phone is turned off, we’ll get nothing.” Kendra sounded muffled, and he realized she stuck the phone between her ear and shoulder and then he heard insistent tapping on her computer keys.

“I got the faxes, and I’m going to try to go through them, if you track her let me know and I’ll go get her.” Eli stated.

“Fine, I’ll call you the moment I get anything.” Kendra hung up first this time.

He sat down at the desk in his room and ran his hands through his hair, “where the hell are you Molls?”

Molly was licking the icing from her danish from her fingers when she spotted both Harold and Jonathan Lieber rolling a cart with a large black sack towards the garage.

She grabbed her binoculars and looked through, it was a body bag. “Oh my God.”

Then her back door opened and before she could respond, she felt something around her neck. Molly struggled but soon everything went dark.

Chapter 16:

It was dark outside the windows of the hotel room where Eli was. He fought to keep his focus on the stuff Kendra faxed over to him, but that was hours ago., where the hell was Kendra’s call? Giving up, he grabbed his coat and keys from the dresser and headed out the door.

A snow storm was starting to blow in and Eli really hoped the he could find her before the storm really hit. There was a small part of him that held on to hope that he she was alright, but unfortunately fear was kicking hope’s ass. He knew in his gut that she was in danger.

Eli checked her favourite café, where apparently she had been in earlier according to the cashier. She said that she had only come in the one time and bought a danish along with her coffee, but that was four and a half hours ago. That fit in with Kendra’s time line and the hours he wasted reading stupid files when he should have been out looking for her. He sat in his care in front of the café, and tried to put himself into her shoes. If he was Molly, where would she go next?

He was too worried to think straight, but he left the café and headed in the same direction that Molly would have to the hotel. Hoping that maybe she had been stranded without cell service somewhere between the café and the hotel so he kept his eyes peeled. The snow was coming down slow but steadily and the wind was picking up, blowing snow all around the roads, making it detection near to impossible.

Frustration set in, and he gritted his teeth and angrily pounded his hands on the steering wheel, “God dammit!”

He turned a corner a little too sharp, and nearly having an accident of his own. He slowed down just a little bit, knowing that if he was to have an accident it was not going to help her any. Eli headed towards the clinic and prayed to his mother that Molly was there and safe.

Her car was parked just down the road from The Lieber House Walk-In Clinic, but judging from the snow covering the windows, she wasn’t inside. He pulled over right behind her Toyota, and he knew it was hers because of her “YODA XE2” license plate.

Eli left the warmth of his car and walked around hers. He lifted the door handle to the driver’s side door and it was opened. That alone had the hairs on the back of Eli’s neck standing up and his stomach pitching in fear. Molly was anal about locking her car and putting the CLUB on her steering wheel. It drove him nuts sometimes but she was consistent. He went in and found crumbs all over the middle counsel and some on the seat, and half of her coffee in the cup holder, and it was extremely cold, which told Eli she had been gone a while. Eli carefully searched the car, all the doors were unlocked, and the floor mat behind the driver’s side was wet to the touch, and the keys were in the ignition.

Grabbing her keys, he locked and armed her car alarm. His short hair ruffled in the giant gust of wind, as he looked over at the house where the creepiest family he’s ever met resided.

The smell of bleach permeated the air. The stench was so overpowering that she could taste it in her mouth. Molly’s headed pounded and her throat felt like a transport truck was parked on her trachea. She opened her eyes but could see nothing. Her head was in a hood, she could feel the material touching her skin. This was so not her idea of kinky.

Molly’s shoulder’s and wrists hurt, and that is when she realized that she was bound to a chair. She could feel the steel of the hand cuffs around her wrists, and her feet were tied to the chair she was sitting on as well. This wasn’t good. Not only did she despise the scent of bleach, but she knew what the use for it was in this case.

She heard the bang of metal off in the distance. It sounded like a heavy metal door opening. Several thuds which sounded like boots on a wooden stair case grew louder in her ears. Someone was coming. Make that a group of someones. Molly knew who those people were.

“Are you awake yet Miss Westin?” A familiar voice echoed. She knew it was Rona Lieber.

With her throat raw for whatever reason, she couldn’t remember why, she coughed her response.

“Good,” said the voice belonging to Harold Lieber, as he whipped the hood off her head.

The light stung her eyes. It was blaring bright, like the light a terrorist or a police officer would use when interrogating criminals. Molly closed her eyes again. She really didn’t want to see what they were going to do to her anyways.

“How are you doing? Are you nice and comfy?” Harold asked.

Swallowing a few times to clear the scratch in her throat, Molly managed to speak, “I’m a little pissed off.” She paused, “you’ve messed up my hair.”

They all laughed, then she felt the strong hand slap her face, leaving her left cheek stinging like a son of a bitch.

The four siblings of Creeper’s ville spoke to each other around her, taking turns giving their ideas on what to do with her. “I vote we torture her and steal her money, then we can dispose of her in a vat of acid.” Rona suggested.

“I think bringing back the acid isn’t such a bad idea Rona,” her brother Jonathan

agreed, “It worked for years.”

“Acid?” Molly scoffed, “can’t you come up with anything more creative? Acid’s been done.”

“Shut up liar!” Lona yelled. Her kitty cat sweater contradicting her current actions. Molly never did like those ugly sweaters. All that was missing were stirrup pants. She looked down. Or not. Lona had those covered too.

“I’m just saying that if you can come up with something that won’t tie you to past indiscretions, it might be in your best interests.” Molly’s eyes were starting to adjust to the light. “You should make my death look like a suicide. I could help out, I can write my own note.” She watched as the siblings shared looks with each other. If she can confuse them maybe that will buy her some time.

They stopped talking and circled her. The four of them standing in front of her in a semi-circle, quiet. Molly became more uneasy than she was before. They continued to converse with one another through looks, the same way that Hailey, Kendra and herself had perfected many years ago. If these four’s looks meant the same thing as Ken and Hails, then they were going to tell on her. Molly didn’t think that was it at all.

“Why were you snooping around here?” Harold Lieber asked as he walked behind her, his sister’s in tow.

Having no idea how to answer, Molly tried her hardest to think of something. She could see Jonathan’s eyes on her, but she could feel the eyes of his siblings on her. “M-my husband and I are private investigators.”

“He is not your husband!” Jonathan yelled at her just inches from her face.

She pulled her head back away from him as his breath was nasty, like cough syrup mixed with garlic. “Fine he’s not my husband, but we are private investigators.” Molly admitted.

He stood up to his full height, and peered down at her. “I know what he is. Eli Savidis took my case.” Molly wasn’t sure what he was talking about. “I can see that you have no idea what I am talking about.”

“No shit, really?” Molly said sarcastically. He responded by punching her in the jaw. Thankfully, Mike Tyson he wasn’t.

“I reported, my mother,” he said with a smirk, “Evis Hollingsworth missing. I figured once he found her body that he would go away. I could see it in his eyes that he wasn’t going away that easily, so I played the distraught son.”

“We just couldn’t figure out where you came in.” Said one of the twins behind her, “he never told Jonathan he had a partner.”

Molly’s face throbbed too much to care, and she could feel it swelling as she sat there, bound to a hard chair. “Well now you know.”

The hood was put back over her head, and she heard their foot steps parade up stairs before hearing the clank of the metal door closing. Now what?

With her hands bound with handcuffs, there was no chance of her getting out, at least not this time. She needed to think of a plan. She needed to get out of the handcuffs.

It felt like hours passed when Molly heard the door open and the softer foot steps come down the stairs. She knew that it had to be either Rona or Lona. The hood was pulled off slower than it had been when Harold had done so. The first sight she saw was that ugly cat sweater. Lona.

Lona hovered over her, just staring at her. Molly came up with the perfect excuse. “Please, I really need to use the bathroom.” Molly pleaded. “Please let me go to the bathroom.”

“I-I don’t know,” Lona hesitated, looking over her shoulder towards the stairs.

Perfect, Molly could see the remorse in Lona’s eyes. She was the submissive of the group, and Molly decided to use that to her advantage. “You’re a woman, you must understand how frustrating this is. Please Lona.” Personalizing the connection is suppose to help connect with the person who was holding you hostage.

Molly could see Lona’s resistance give way, and knew that her chance was coming to get the hell out of there. She was going to have to fight for her life, and although she wasn’t the type to fight, like Kendra was, it has never been more necessary that it was now.

“Fine,” Lona caved in, and reached for the key from the laynard from around her neck, and unhooked the hand cuffs.

Reserving her energy for when her feet were free, Molly held still. Once her feet were untied, she waited for Lona to start to stand up, then she made her move by kneeing her in the jaw. Lona flew back, and Molly was on her like a lion on it’s prey. Kicking her into the corner, Molly kept a close eye over her shoulder for Lona’s re-enforcements. Once she was sure that the psycho bitch was down, Molly made a bee-line for the stairs. She had just gotten her foot on the bottom step when Lona was back on her. Choking her from behind. Her forearm cutting off air.

“Seriously, You’re like, what, fifty?” Molly fought to get out. She managed to bite down on Lona’s arm and hearing a horrible scream pierce Molly’s ears. She remembered watching a lot of professional wrestling and the trick the guys used to get their opponents off their backs. With all her strength, Molly ran backwards towards the back wall and

smash her opponent against the hard concrete. She elbowed her once as hard as she could then turned to look at the crumpled woman on the floor. “I’m laying the SmackDown bitch!” Then felt something smash into the back of her head. The lights went out again.

Eli waited away from Molly’s car, he didn’t feel like getting caught. He was getting antsy and thought waiting too long would allow them more time to hurt her. Or worse. He left several more messages for Nick and Kendra, but now she was M.I.A..

Getting completely fed up, he tossed his cell phone on to the passenger seat of his jeep when he noticed all four siblings pile into the old station wagon. They were leaving the house. Something didn’t make sense. Maybe they didn’t have her, or maybe they already killed her. Eli’s stomach turned again. He waited until he left, then ran across the road, nearly falling on his ass.

He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a black, soft leather case with his lock picking set inside, and went to work on the side door off the original kitchen.

The locks to the house were the originals, and didn’t take Eli long to get the door opened. He looked around to see if anything looked out of place, and immediately saw a door that looked like it would lead to the basement, except it was locked with a combination lock. Looking around the room for something to bust the lock, Eli saw a row of numbers written on a wipe board.

“Thirty, nine, forty-five,” he whispered to himself before tugging on the lock, and it opened, “boom.”

Eli had to keep from running down the stairs just in case there was something unpleasant awaited for him. He noticed a splotch of blood on the concrete wall. He rounded the corner and sitting under a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling of the basement, was Molly. Eli couldn’t stop himself from running over to him. He took in her feet and hands, bound to the chair, and her face was covered in a black hood.

“Molls,” he said as he slowly pulled it off. The minute the hood was off, he saw the bruises on her face. He was going to kill somebody.

“Eli,” her voice was groggy, but was still music to his ears. “I got the key to the cuffs from Lona.”

“Where?” He asked as he bent down to undo the restraints on her feet. Knowing that they laid a hand on his Molly, pissed him off.

“I put it in my bra.”

“Lucky me,” Eli smiled up at her.

“You were right,” she admitted.

Eli retrieved the key from Molly’s bra, giving her a quick kiss. His hand was trembling because he didn’t know how long he had until they came back. “no, worries sweetie, I’m going to get us out of here.”

“Good luck with that,” said the voice of his client from behind him.

Chapter 17:

As happy as she had been to see Eli at first, Molly really wished that instead of coping a feel while he was digging around Molly’s bra for the key, he could have hurried up and had them at least ready to fight the family off. Part of her didn’t believe he took his time on purpose as she could feel his hands shaking. Out what she didn’t know.

Eli was seated behind her, his hands restrained the same way as hers. She could touch his hands with hers, which confirmed that his back was to hers.

The murdering psycho’s left the hood off of Molly this time, and the light that had been above her kept flickering. The light gave her a better opportunity to really look at the basement. A cold storage was on her far right, but the door was shut and latched. The floors were painted white, and the area near her and Eli had the walls also painted white, unlike the area near the stairs where the walls were just concrete. She moved her feet, and noticed that her boots stuck slightly. The floors had been recently painted. She looked down at the floor and studied it for some time, allowing her to see the impact prints of multiple footprints on the soft surface.

Eli stirred behind her, as he became more aware he struggled more. She stretched out her hands and grasped his as best as she could in order to calm him down. She didn’t want the freaks to come and check on them.

“By chance, Molls,” he began, “do you have another key?”

“That would be a no, and even if I did, I would be unable to get it.” She answered.

He struggled more, “why did you come back?”

Molly could tell that he was frustrated and she could also tell Eli she returned to piss him off, or the truth. She went with the truth, “I came back to help you.”

“Good job,”he responded.

“You know what Eli, screw you. Screw you in the ass with a butter knife.” She wondered where that came from. She was used to creating new phrases but that one wasn’t her style.

“Ah,” he began, “you could have warned me that someone was there.”

“Hate to tell you this buddy, but they were behind me when they hit you, so if anyone should have seen them coming, it should have been you.” Eli was getting on Molly’s nerves.

He kept picking small fights with her, ones he apparently can’t win, and that just made him more irritable.

“Is your chair metal or wood Molls?” He wondered.

She was ready with a smart comeback but hadn’t expected that question from him. “Metal, why?”

“Shit, mine too.” He took a deep breath, “I once saw this thing on Dexter, where he got caught by another serial killer and he escaped by knocking over the wood chair or table, I can’t remember which, but it broke so he got loose.”

“I hate to break it to you but this isn’t television, although I’m starting to understand Dexter’s motives a bit more.” The door opened, so she whispered, “besides if you tipped over your chair, you would break your wrist or arm, or both.”

Eli turned his head to see which Lieber sibling was approaching them. He clutched Molly’s hands in his. It was the man who hired him, George Hollingsworth, or so he said that was his name. He knew back at the police station when he found out that the real George had been reported missing. George was really Jonathan Lieber.

“Took you long enough to figure it out,” Lieber taunted as he stood before Eli. “You can imagine my surprise when I saw you in my clinic with her.” He purposely smacked Molly in the back of the head.

Eli gritted his teeth to keep from saying something that would put Molly at risk if he had pissed Lieber off more. He really wanted to tell him off. That vain was popping out of his forehead. Eli could feel it throbbing.

“What’s the matter Eli, didn’t like what I did your wife?” He laughed a very evil sounding laugh, “Oh that’s right, you’re not married.”

Jonathan Lieber pulled Molly’s chair to the side and around so that Eli could watch him run his hand through her hair. Eli could see the dry blood gnatting in her honey coloured hair. He responded by tugging on his cuffs. He hoped that he could have the strength of the Incredible Hulk to break through the cuffs restraining him.

“You are beautiful, and both my siblings told me that you have a lovely….”

“FUCK OFF you psycho!” Eli screamed. He wanted to forget that he pimped out his girlfriend’s uterus for the sake of the case to those psychos.

His out burst triggered a severe reaction from the one currently touching Molly. Jonathan raised his leg and hoofed Eli’s left shoulder so hard, tipping his chair over on it’s side. Eli grunted loudly as he felt pain shoot up his arms, and as he felt his own bones in his hand and wrists break on impact. Clenching his teeth together to keep from screaming, he swore instead.

The next sound he heard was Molly’s gasp, and her calling out his name, followed by the sound of an open palm on a face. He had slapped her.

“You, Mr. Savidis are the worst private investigator I have ever had the pleasure to kill.” Jonathan stopped and looked up at the floor above him when a thumping noise came from above.

Eli gritted his teeth from the pain, “so I’m not the first?”

Returning his attention to Eli, Jonathan leaned down and righted the chair he was on. “Oh no. I do have to say this,” thump-thump, he looked back up. “None of you are smart enough to work in teams, until,” thump, “what the…” thump.

“I’ll tell you this Lieber, Molly and I have two other partners.”

“That’s…” thump-thump, “nice.” Jonathan punched Eli in the face then raced up the stairs.

“What the hell is that noise, Eli?” Molly asked.

“I’m fine, thanks for asking.” He rolled his head to look at her. “With any luck it, it’s them killing each other.”

“With any luck.”

“By the way, you were wrong. It’s not the arm and wrist that break. It’s the wrist and hand.”

“Semantics,” then flinched at another series of thumps above her.

Eli smiled, “I’m sorry I pushed you away, and I am really sorry for hurting you.”

Her face turned as soft as it could with all the bruising and swelling, “I’m sorry I didn’t listen and stayed away.”

“Me too.” Glass broke over their heads. Eli looked up. “I hope to hell that’s help.” Molly nodded in agreement. “Molls, in case it isn’t help.” Eli swallowed the lump in his throat. “I just want you to know that I love you.”

“I love you too,” she looked up as multiple series of bangs and glass breaking sounded, “who the hell knows we’re here?”

More loud noises, “Kendra.”

“Sounds like her,” Molly snickered. The noise all stopped, “although I thought that she would have more stealth than that.”

Eli chuckled, but stopped the moment he heard the door open. Hefty sounding foot steps thumped down the stairs. It definitely was not Kendra.

“Yo, what’s up you two?”

“Nick!” Molly gasped.

“Hey sexy, is Eli knocking you around down here?” Nick acted cool as a cucumber, but concern was in his eyes and etched in his face.

“Not this time Nicky,” Eli responded. “I’m a little tied up at the moment.”

Nick laughed as he unlocked Molly’s hand cuffs, then cut the restrains around her feet with a pocket knife. Once she was freed he went to Eli. “Careful with Eli, Nick,” she warned. “Fucker broke his hand.”

“Shitty,” he said as he gingerly unlocked the cuffs.

“How are you containing the freaks up stairs?” Eli winced.

Nick worked on the binds on Eli’s feet as sirens blared in the background. “I arrived just as Kendra did. I lost the coin toss.”

“For what?” Molly asked as she tried to stand, but she was so stiff from sitting for hours.

“She’s got the gun and isn’t letting them even move or flinch.” He responded. “We flipped a coin as to who got to keep them at gun point.”

That did it, Molly found her legs and jumped to her feet, “are you crazy or something? Arming Kendra of all people?”

Nick placed his hands on her shoulder’s and made her sit. “While you and Eli were here working on your cases, Kendra go her license and is now allowed to carry on the job.”

“Not my point.”

“Molly, if she kills them, she kills them,” Eli said really not giving a fuck.

She looked over at the man who said he loved her, “it’s not them I’m worried about, it’s Nick.”

Nick laughed it off, “no worries. She realized we’re on the same side. Oh, hey Molly, whose the giant guy with the tats and the huge ears?”

“Not now Nick.”

“Oh you’re talking about Matt, Kendra’s ex-boyfriend.” Molly answered.

Molly looked past Nick to see Kendra rounding the corner after taking the last step on the stairs, relief flooded her partner’s face.

“Are you talking smack about me?” Kendra joked.

“Aren’t you suppose to be guarding the Adam’s Family?” Nick asked.

Kendra looked at him over her shoulder, “the police have all four under control, douche bag.” Molly missed her best friend so much that hearing Ken say “douche bag” felt like warm apple pie on a cool fall evening. That’s when Molly realized that she was weird.

The Emergency Medical Technicians came down the stairs interrupting their warm and cozy moment. The police were right behind them, wanting Eli and Molly’s statements, but the EMT’s staked their claims and told the police to talk to them at the hospital.

Molly was about to argue but she caught a look from Eli, who needed to go, and his eyes pleaded with her to just go to humour him.

Without argument, Molly and Eli shared the ambulance to the hospital. Nick and Kendra hung back to talk to the police.

“Marry Me?” Eli asked.

Epilogue:

“I can’t believe you’re licensed to carry a gun.” Molly said as she followed behind Kendra and Hailey.

Kendra looked over her shoulder, “could be worse. Hailey could be the one packing heat.”

Hailey whacked Kendra with her flowers, “hey! Careful with those. They have to look perfect for the photos. Then feel free to kill each other with your bouquets.”

“Sorry,” both Hailey and Kendra responded.

They stopped at a set of large wooden doors. Kendra turned around, wearing a long baby pink, satin dress with one strap on her shoulder and the other exposed, to help fix the train on Molly’s wedding gown. Hailey fixed the crown of flowers around Megan’s head, and straightened Sheldon’s tie.

It wasn’t until she saw her father blink back his tears behind his glasses, that Molly had to try to do the same. She looked down to the floor to avoid getting emotional, then started to laugh hysterically. Kendra, Hailey and the kids all turned to look at her as if she had Maine lobsters crawling out of her ears.

“Dad, I love you, but please tell me that you’re not walking me down the aisle in lime green Crocs?”

Henry looked down at his feet then looked up at his daughter and grinned, “they’re lime green?”

“Yes dad,” Molly answered.

He shrugged, “oh well, you’ll deal with it.”

Molly watched the looks on Kendra and Hailey’s faces as they exchanged panicked looks.

If anyone could diffuse a situation it was Molly. “Dad, I love that you want to be comfortable, because Lord knows that I’d like to be,” she paused in order to phrase the rest of this right, “mom is going to freak out if she sees those.”

Henry took a deep breath, “oh, shit,” and off he went down the hall to change his shoes.

Kendra and the kids started to laugh. “You laugh, and call me bridezilla, but trust me, that’s nothing compared to momzilla.” Molly then added, “nothing.”

Her father returned wearing the proper foot wear, and now they were all set.

“God I want her so bad,” Nick whispered.

Eli turned to his left and looked at hi best friend, “dude, you better not be talking about my wife.”

“No, I was talking about Kendra, and technically Molly isn’t your wife yet, so free reign.”

The music stopped and Eli watched as Kendra and Hailey took their places across from him and his groomsmen. He could swear he hear the drool leaving Nick’s mouth. The entire church stood up, and Eli felt a hand on his back pushing him forward. He looked to see his soon to be brother-in-law, Alex, step back into place next to Nick. “Thank-you” he mouthed and Alex gave a slight nod.

Megan and Sheldon walked down the aisle first. Megan tossing flowers and Sheldon holding on to the leash belonging to Chewbacca as the rings lightly clinked from his collar. Eli smiled at the two kids. Sheldon winking back and giving him a thumbs up. Looks like Nick has a fan.

When he looked up, the woman he loved was just starting down the long aisle on the arm of her father. She looked radiant, as the top part of her dress’ bodice was tight enough to give her the perfect amount of cleavage, and the skirt was puffed out slightly, and was a plain white. Simple and elegant. His Molly was anything but simple, but she was definitely elegant.

Henry handed over his daughter to Eli without hesitation. A compliment if Eli ever knew one. He felt her soft warm hand in his, and his heart swelled with overwhelming happiness. She smiled at him and he responded with “you take my breath away.”

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 e