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Undercover secrets untol.., p.15

Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies, page 15


Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies

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  “It’s my grandmother’s recipe…my favorite breakfast. I was surprised to find the strawberries,” CC said, taking a bite.

  “I usually put them on ice cream, but this is much better,” Gwen said, licking her fingers.

  “So, what do you want to do today?” Gwen asked.

  “I want to go to the animal shelter. I’ve been thinking about it since you mentioned it…can we just go look. Please?”

  Gwen laughed. “Of course we can just go look, but we’d better stop at the pet store and pick up some supplies for our ‘just look.’ I have to pick up food and treats for Max anyway.”

  Gwen put the tray on the nightstand and asked huskily, “Do we have time for this?” and she kissed CC passionately.

  “Umm…yes!” CC agreed wholeheartedly.

  Afterward, they got up and cleaned the kitchen, fed Max, and took off for the pet supply store. They filled the cart with dog food and treats, shampoo and hair conditioner, and a small dog bed made of lambskin. CC picked out a light blue collar with tiny white dog bones on it and a matching leash. They had a hard time limiting the number of squeaky toys they wanted to buy; there was such a large variety and they were all adorable. Laughing in the aisle, they played with several of the toys before finally deciding on four smaller ones and a large, purple, stuffed rabbit for Max. They loaded everything into her trunk, and they headed to the animal shelter.

  “I’m kind of nervous,” CC admitted. “What if they don’t like me or are afraid to come to me?”

  “These poor souls will eat up any attention you give them. You will be saving them from being caged twenty-four/seven and they’ll never forget that. Besides, how could they not like you?” Gwen replied, squeezing her hand.

  “I feel like I’m adopting a baby!” CC exclaimed.

  Gwen laughed. “In a sense, that’s exactly what you’re doing.”

  When they got to the shelter, the two women walked hand in hand through several large buildings, each with a variety of breeds and sizes. They agreed some were too large, several too hyper, and a few very unfriendly. Some barked at them furiously and others were meek and shied away.

  “I didn’t know this would be so hard,” CC complained.

  “You’ll know when you find the right one for you,” Gwen said encouragingly.

  They walked through three more buildings, and at the end of the last one was a cage with two small, white terriers. They knelt down and put their hands against the cage while the two pups came excitedly to them, licking their fingers and wagging their tails.

  “Oh, Gwen. These guys are adorable,” CC cried out.

  “Says they’re brothers. Both are already neutered, so they’re ready to take home,” Gwen said, reading the paper enclosed in a plastic sheath. “They’re about a year old.”

  “Can we take them both?” CC begged.

  “I don’t see why not.” She grinned. “We’ll have to stop at the pet store and get another collar, leash and bed.”

  They found an attendant, a young dark-haired volunteer, who took the dogs out of the cage and handed each woman a leash. In a small caged area, the boys romped and played fetch with a ball, but kept coming back to the women, anxious to get more attention. They rubbed their noses against their legs when they stopped petting them.

  “I think they like me,” CC said, grinning from ear to ear.

  “Then it’s a done deal. Let’s get the paperwork finished,” Gwen said, waving for the attendant.

  “We’ll take both of them,” Gwen said definitely.

  “I’m so glad,” the young woman said eagerly. “We were afraid we’d have to split them up. They’re both such nice dogs…very well behaved and potty trained too. The owner had to move to an assisted living complex after breaking a hip and couldn’t take the dogs with her.”

  “Thanks for the information,” Gwen replied. “Have they had all their shots?”

  “Yes, we give them all booster shots when they come in, make sure they’re microchipped and neutered. You’ll also get a free veterinary visit. You’ll get their papers too—they’re both pedigree terriers. The owner had sired them from her previous terrier.”

  “Uh, does that make them more expensive?” CC asked hesitantly.

  “No, we charge just one standard fee for each adoption. It’s just nice to be able to find all these guys new homes.” The attendant smiled.

  It took about forty-five minutes to fill out the necessary paperwork. Afterward CC stayed in the car and played with the pups while Gwen ran into the pet store to get the additional supplies they’d need.

  When they got home, they let the dogs roam around the house, sniffing and making sure they were comfortable in their new environment.

  “We’ve got to name them,” CC said, squeaking a small teddy bear to get the pups’ attention.

  “Any ideas?” Gwen asked.

  “Well, the smaller of the two looks like a peanut…we could call him Peanut.”

  Gwen laughed. “How about Cashew then for the other? So we’ll have Peanut and Cashew.”

  “Perfect,” CC laughed.

  “I’d like to cordon off an area out back for them to play in. It’ll be warm enough soon for them to spend time outside. I’ll get some fencing material and stakes and put them around the big oak tree so they have shade,” Gwen said.

  “That would be great. I’ll take them to the park while you’re getting the supplies,” CC offered.

  “You don’t mind dog-sitting my half of the family?” Gwen teased.

  “I just love them to pieces already, Gwen. I’m not going to want to leave them for one second,” she said, picking Peanut up and letting him lick her face.

  Max walked in cautiously and the two little pups started barking.

  “Oh boy,” Gwen said. “Max, this is Peanut and this is Cashew. They’re your new playmates.”

  Max inched forward and sniffed the two little guys, who danced around the bigger dog, doing plenty of sniffing of their own. Max’s tail started wagging as they all settled down.

  “Looks like they’re already friends!” CC said happily.

  “I think the little guys will be good for Max. He’ll get more exercise following them around. And look, they want to play with him.” Gwen laughed when Cashew dropped one of the toys at Max’s feet.

  “Oh, we forgot to give Max his new toy!” CC exclaimed, getting the purple rabbit out of one of the bags.

  Max grabbed the rabbit and started chomping down to make it squeak, while the two little guys jumped around him, enjoying the action but staying a safe distance away.

  “Well, if I’m going to get the pen done today, I’d better get moving. Have fun!”

  “You know I will,” CC replied, already lying on the floor on her tummy to scratch the boys behind their ears and roughhouse with them.

  * * *

  By dinnertime Gwen had finished the outside play area, a twelve by twelve square foot fenced area with the tree in the center. CC had run home to pack a bag with enough clothes for a few days. They decided they’d keep the dogs at Gwen’s house for a week, and take them to CC’s to get them used to her place the following week. It was agreed that they’d always keep the two together, and when the dogs were used to both places, they would take turns keeping them.

  They ordered pizza for dinner and when everyone was exhausted, they put one of the doggie beds on each side of their bed. Gwen and CC kissed and hugged, too tired to make love and Gwen turned off the light. Within two seconds they felt a plop at the foot of the bed as one, then the other dog joined them, snuggling against their feet. They started laughing and finally fell asleep, all four nestled closely together.

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Sunday the women enjoyed playing with the new pups and invited Gwen’s neighbor, Pierre, and his dog Max over for dinner. CC made a pork roast with mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet corn on the cob, and a cherry cobbler for dessert. Gwen gave each of the dogs a rawhide bone to keep them occupied while they ate. Th
ey were happy to hear that Pierre was off work the next three days, so he could keep an eye on all three dogs while they were at work. After dinner they all took off for the park, and laughed as the smaller dogs tried to beat Max to the Frisbee Pierre was throwing across the grass for Max to catch. With shorter legs, Cashew was a close second, and Peanut kept stopping dead in his tracks, distracted by every sound around him.

  That afternoon the women moved the dog beds to the living room, where the boys liked to take short naps during the day. They knew after the first night that there was no way to stop the boys from sleeping on the bed, and besides, they enjoyed waking with cold noses and furry bodies rubbing against their skin. Both pups were constantly doing silly things to keep them laughing. They played hard and demanded their constant attention, which they were happy to give. Then, like little toy trains having lost their steam, the adorable little boys would lie down and close their eyes.

  * * *

  Monday morning came far too quickly, and CC and Gwen were sad to leave the boys behind. They closed off the door to the bedroom, and scattered toys around the living room for them to play with. It nearly broke CC’s heart to see Peanut’s big, brown, sad eyes staring at her longingly when they finally closed the door at eleven a.m. to leave for work.

  On the way to the precinct, CC suggested, “Hey, I’d like to stop at that bar Sammy saw Wright going into. He can’t stop us from innocently being someplace that he frequents. I mean, if we ran into each other in a restaurant or something, hey, it’s a free country.”

  “Great idea. I think Scott said it was Tina’s Pub, but we can double-check at the task force meeting. Why don’t we go before heading to The Dive? If Wright does show up, Sammy should be close behind to back us up.”

  “And if he doesn’t show up, it would be the perfect opportunity to ask around about Meg and Kathy,” CC offered.

  Scott was already in Gwen’s office when they arrived, so they firmed up their plans to check out the bar. When that was settled, they started ribbing Scott about his hours with Doc Maynard.

  “Jeepers,” Scott said, shaking his head. “The man has three daughters and a ton of grandchildren. I had to hear about every one of the pregnancies, all the births, and I got a rundown of how wonderful they all are now. I feel like I’m already part of the family, and I’ve not met one of them.”

  “Doc is a wonderful man, but he is a talker when you get him going,” Gwen said.

  Brad walked in and the four got busy and started talking about the investigation. “The green fibers the evidence techs found are a definite match. All are from the same carpet manufacturer, and used in Chevrolet trunks,” Brad confirmed.

  “Interesting,” Gwen commented. “We know the women were transported after death, so it has to be a big enough car to fit a body in the trunk. That leaves out hatchbacks and other compact models.”

  “If he’s a big man, he wouldn’t be driving a small car anyway,” Scott piped in. “I have trouble driving my wife’s Fiat. There just isn’t enough leg room.”

  “We’ve got some samples going to the manufacturers to see if we can narrow it down more,” Brad told them.

  Gwen filled Brad in on their plans to visit Tina’s Pub. “Sounds like a good plan,” he said. “Just be careful.”

  * * *

  Gwen and CC got to Tina’s just past eight. They found a table in the back of the dimly lit dining room and ordered Cokes and burgers. They ate slowly, talking about the dogs. They giggled softly about how cute they had looked when they’d stopped home that afternoon to feed and walk them.

  “What a difference between this bar and The Dive,” CC remarked. “It’s practically deserted. They don’t have pool tables or dart boards to attract the late crowd.”

  “The food is good though,” Gwen said, taking another bite of her cheeseburger.

  “Yeah, I’ll agree with you there. But it’s dark…and, I don’t know…kind of dreary. It’s not a place I’d like to spend a lot of time in.”

  “Yeah, it’s not my kind of place either. Doesn’t look like Wright is going to show up anyway, and there’s no one at the bar to talk to about the missing women. Let’s get the check and get going.”

  There was only one other occupied table, at the other end of the dining room. The waitress was standing there and gabbing with a young couple, oblivious to her other customers. “This might take awhile,” CC fumed.

  “Shhh. Wright just walked in. He’s sitting with his back to us at the bar,” Gwen whispered.

  “Oh, shit. Are you going to go over and talk to him?”

  “No. Let’s just sit here quietly and watch. He didn’t notice us, so let’s pretend we didn’t see him come in. Just keep talking quietly.”

  Wright ordered a drink, drank it quickly, and ordered another. From what Gwen could see, it looked like brandy and Coke. He either wanted a quick buzz or was nervous, because he was already half finished with his second drink.

  Ten minutes later, as he slowed down and was sipping his third cocktail, another man walked in. He didn’t sit, but stood next to Wright and ordered a stein of beer from the bartender.

  “Hey, isn’t that the creepy DA from the fourth floor?” CC asked.

  “Yeah, it’s District Attorney Algier. I heard he’s tight with Judge Garmer.”

  Gwen took out her cell phone and discreetly shot off a couple pictures of the two men.

  While the bartender’s back was turned, Wright handed Algier an envelope which he folded in half and quickly pocketed. The bartender returned and put the beer on the counter, which Algier grabbed, drank half in one gulp, and after throwing a couple dollars on the bar, quickly left.

  “Drugs?” CC whispered.

  “No, from my angle I saw green when he folded the envelope. It’s got to be a bribe, and there’s no doubt in my mind Garmer will see some of that money. No wonder Wright got such a sweet deal from the judge.”

  “Uh-oh,” CC said, sinking lower in her seat. “I think he spotted us.”

  “Just remember what you told me. We have as much right to be here as he does,” Gwen said firmly, trying to keep her voice from quivering.

  Wright stormed over to their table, his fists clenched at his sides and his eyes bulging with fury.

  “You following me again, Detective Meyers?” he raged. “You’re a disgrace to the police force, and I’m going to report this.”

  “What are you going to report, sir? That we came into a bar for burgers and Cokes?” Gwen said smugly, keeping her cool.

  “No, that you’re harassing me,” he spat.

  “I have witnesses to the fact that I never said a word until you came to my table and started yelling at me,” she said, indicating the young couple and waitress, who were staring at them with shocked expressions. The waitress looked like she couldn’t make up her mind whether to run, call the cops, or leave well enough alone.

  “I’ll get you for this, Meyers, if it’s the last thing I do,” he snarled, then turned and stormed out of the bar, slamming the door behind him.

  “I’d like to pay my check now,” Gwen said, taking advantage of finally having the attention of the waitress.

  “Huh? Oh sure,” she replied, still obviously shaken. “Did you know that guy?”

  “I’ve run into him a few times. What about you? He come in here often?” Gwen asked.

  “Yeah, I think so. He’s not one of the regulars, but he comes in from time to time. Always at odd times though, and never when it’s busy.”

  “Do you recognize any of these women?” Gwen asked, pulling out the photo spread from her pocket.

  “Uh, yeah.” She pointed to the picture of Kathy. “That one was with the man who just left. I remember because they were at one of my tables arguing.”

  “Any of the others?” Gwen probed.

  “Maybe that one,” she said, pointing to Meg’s picture. “I’m not real sure, but she may have been here a few times. Neither one came in that often. Hey, you guys cops?”

“Yes. Both of these women were murdered, so if you think of anything else, could you give me a call?” Gwen said, handing her a card.

  “Oh no!” the woman gasped. “I had no idea. So you think the man that left had something to do with it?”

  “We’re in the early stages of our investigation,” Gwen said. “I recommend that if he comes in again, you don’t let on you know anything. Just act normally, and if anything seems strange, don’t hesitate to call me.”

  “Oh yes, I’ll certainly do that,” the woman said nervously, shoving the card into her apron pocket.

  As Gwen and CC were leaving, they noticed the waitress back at the young couple’s table. She was whispering and her hands were flying in frantic gestures. The couple was listening with rapt attention, completely absorbed.

  “Well, I guess we don’t have to worry about Wright getting the welcome mat next time he comes in,” Gwen chuckled.

  “I’ll bet that waitress gives you a call each and every time he sets foot in the door from now on,” CC said and laughed along with her.

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  The following morning Gwen was summoned to Chief Ziegler’s office. She hurried to meet with him, anxious to fill him in on her suspicions.

  As soon as she arrived, he ushered her into his office and slammed the door. “I’ve got a complaint against you, Detective. Harassing people now, are we?” he said angrily.

  “If you’re talking about Wright, I was just eating dinner before heading for my stakeout,” Gwen protested.

  “That’s not what it says here. He says you’ve been following him and made a scene at the restaurant. He’s accusing you of threatening him and trying to coerce others into falsely accusing him of misconduct.”

  “That’s bullshit, Chief. I admit, he’s been a person of interest because, well…his name keeps coming up again in my investigation, but he’s the one who caused the scene. I have witnesses,” Gwen said firmly.

  He looked somewhat mollified. “Now what is it that you have on him?” the chief inquired.

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