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Undercover secrets untol.., p.17

Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies, page 17


Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies

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  “We can always use another pair of hands,” Gwen said, softening.

  “With the approval of the DA and our approved search warrants, I’m offering wiretaps, tracking devices for their automobiles, and video surveillance. You’ve done the groundwork and now we need to reel them in. Let them tell us in their own words and by their actions what they’re up to,” Fred told them.

  “Now that’s a bonus!” Scott said enthusiastically.

  “Yeah, I like the way you think.” Brad smiled.

  “We would appreciate all the help you can give us,” Gwen let him know. “What do you want us to do in the meantime?”

  “I’ve read the reports you’ve given to Chief Ziegler, and I’d like you to continue doing the same things you’ve been doing. The only thing I disagreed with is Chief Ziegler’s directive that you stay away from Captain Wright. I say, get in his face! The angrier you get him, the more likely he’s going to make that incriminating call, or take off to a secret hiding place. And we’ll be right there listening and watching when he does.”

  “How soon will you have the bugs in place?” CC asked.

  “My team has already created minor disturbances to get the three men out of their way. My superiors have signed all the paperwork, so we have the green light. Right about now, Wright should be at his goddaughter’s school finding her doing just fine after the nurse’s mix-up about the child who was vomiting. Algier’s wife had a minor fender bender and he is now on the scene talking to the officers, and poor Judge Garmer is stuck in the elevator at the courthouse for a few minutes. All tracking of their vehicles, phone bugs and video cameras, should be in place right about…” He picked up his cell phone. “Now.”

  Chapter Thirty-Six

  “I know you were pretty nervous about Internal Affairs taking over our investigation, but it turned out okay, didn’t it?” CC asked, stroking Cashew who was sitting contentedly in her lap. She and Gwen had come home for dinner and a much needed break.

  “Yeah, I was praying I would keep my cool. I was sure we were going to be tossed off the case, but it worked out great. I’ve heard nightmares about IA ripping the cases out of the investigative team’s lap and screwing them up royally. But Fred seems like a pretty decent fellow.”

  “I heard somewhere that Barzak took over the position about two years ago and really cleaned house,” CC remembered.

  “Then I guess it’s not like it used to be. I’m dying to see what he comes up with on the wiretaps. Those guys are the scum of the earth. There’s nothing worse than a crooked cop.” Gwen couldn’t help but show her disdain.

  CC nodded her agreement. “I nearly clapped my hands when he told us to get in Wright’s face!”

  “Yeah, that was great,” Gwen agreed. “Let’s just go to The Dive tonight and plan on visiting Tina’s Pub tomorrow, okay? I think I’ve had enough drama for one day.”

  “Sure. That sounds good. You need to lighten up a bit though, hon. And I think I know just what you need,” CC said impishly.

  Gwen finally smiled. “We do have plenty of time.”

  * * *

  Gwen felt determined as ever about the homicide cases as she drove to The Dive. Talking things over with CC had helped ease her mind and put her thinking back on track.

  Gwen discovered when she arrived that most of the regulars hadn’t heard about Amy’s body being found. The press must not have picked up on it nearly as quickly as they had the others. Out of respect for Ben, she told him as delicately as possible. Jimmy and TJ were close enough to hear.

  “Damn shame all them girls died for no reason,” TJ said sadly.

  “Sure would like to get my hands around the neck of whoever done them in,” Jimmy agreed.

  “Guess we kinda figured Amy wouldn’t be found alive,” Ben added, wiping a tear from his eye. “’Specially since the other two was already found dead.”

  “I just know the police have to be putting everything they’ve got into finding the killer, Ben. Mark my words, they’ll get him,” Gwen said soothingly.

  “Won’t bring ’em back though, will it? I miss them all. Like I said, my customers are my family.”

  “You have other family around here?” Gwen asked, trying to change the subject.

  “Parents are long gone. My dad was a no-good rotten son of a bitch anyway. Beat up on my ma plenty. My mom was a saint… went right up to heaven couple years back of cancer. I’ve got two brothers, but they split from these parts as soon as they could. I dunno, maybe went to the west coast. Haven’t heard from them in years. Never even came back when Ma died. How ’bout you, Gwen?”

  “I had one brother who died in the service. My dad died when I was a teenager, and Mom’s in a nursing home…she has multiple sclerosis and is bitter about life in general, and especially toward me since my brother died. Like it was my fault he got blown up or something, I never could figure it out. I don’t get out to see her very often. We weren’t that close to begin with,” Gwen admitted.

  “You need to go see your mom, Gwen. Make peace before it’s too late,” Ben said softly.

  “Yeah, I suppose. I will one of these days soon. I promise.”

  “There you go, girl! Now go beat some butt at that dart board.”

  “You got it.”

  CC was talking with some of the pool players and Gwen joined her when she was finished. They had another beer together, celebrating their progress on the investigation. It was nearly one a.m. when they arrived home, and were greeted by two very happy and perky dogs. They walked hand in hand to the park, talked, and let the dogs sniff every few feet of the way. After three a.m., they finally fell exhausted onto the bed and were asleep in each other’s arms in a matter of minutes.

  Chapter Thirty-Seven

  “You’re into more of a routine than I am,” CC stated the following morning over breakfast. “Are you going to have a difficult time moving to my place next week?”

  “Excuse me?” Gwen almost choked on her coffee.

  “Remember? We agreed to let the dogs get used to my place…one week with you, and then one week with me. I’m asking if you think you can adjust to staying at my place. It’s a lot smaller, but it’s cozy.”

  “CC, I’m head over heels for you. I hope you know that. I’d sleep outside in a dog kennel if it meant being with you.”

  “Like, what does that mean in English…head over heels?”

  “It means I’m in love with you.” Gwen got up and kissed CC tenderly. “Are you okay with that?”

  “You know I’ve struggled with this. I didn’t want it to happen like this…I mean so fast. But, I’m feeling the same way, Gwen. That’s why I’m asking. It’s been wonderful being with you this whole week, and I don’t want to go home and be without you.”

  “That makes me the happiest woman in the world,” Gwen said, kissing her again.

  “We have a family and everything now with Peanut and Cashew. I know we can’t keep moving back and forth every other week, so eventually we’ll have to figure out something more permanent,” CC continued.

  “Any suggestions?” Gwen asked cautiously.

  “Well, I’ve been pondering whether we should stay at your place or mine, and then it dawned on me. Why don’t we look for another place? It would be ours, and not yours or mine.”

  “That’s a great idea. I like it. We can start looking this weekend if you’d like,” Gwen suggested.

  “Yeah, it will be fun. I love to decorate, and I want a place big enough for each of us to have our own space. And of course, a fenced-in yard is a must,” CC said, picturing her perfect house.

  “And a white picket fence?” Gwen teased.

  “Don’t you just love those?” CC joked back.

  “And gingerbread trim…just like in one of those fairytales we read as kids.”

  “Oh, I forgot…will Pierre be really upset? And what about Max?”

  “I’m sure he’ll be thrilled that he can finally buy me out. About six months ago, during one of our rare arg
uments where he was trying to hire me to do his laundry and cleaning, he mentioned that his sister would love to do all his domestic chores if she lived closer. And I’m sure we can invite Max over to visit Peanut and Cashew on occasion.”

  “Oh no, Gwen. He is such a…a MAN!”

  Gwen laughed. “Yeah, that he is.”

  * * *

  They all arrived at the precinct early at the request of Fred Barzak. The team was curious to find out what Barzak’s team had found out in such a short period of time.

  “Glad to see you’re all here,” Fred said, dropping a box of doughnuts on Gwen’s desk. “Help yourselves.”

  “Thank you, Fred. How’s it going with the surveillance?” Gwen asked, grabbing a powdered sugar doughnut.

  “Very well. Better than expected, actually. We’ve confirmed your suspicions that Judge Garmer is getting paid off. Algier is the middle man, but appears to be on both sides of the fence. We discovered he is not only taking bribes, but extorting money and is heavily involved in the drug trade. They’re blackmailing Wright for everything he’s got. Garmer is trying to beef up his retirement savings. Wright’s additional payoff for getting freed on bail is to find Garmer a nice, cozy condo off the Florida Keys. It shouldn’t be any problem finding something through his sleazy contacts down there, but his cash account has been drained down to next to nothing. He’s withdrawn over two hundred thousand in the past six months.”

  “Phew,” Scott whistled. “That’s some serious cash.”

  “So Wright’s running scared?” CC asked.

  “I’d be very surprised if he didn’t try to disappear…leave the country…and hide in Mexico or the Caribbean very soon. Now that we have him monitored, he won’t get very far. He won’t be able to meet Algier’s demands very much longer.”

  “So you think Garmer and Algier are onto him about the murders?” Brad asked.

  “That’s my guess, but nothing that explicit has come across on the surveillance yet,” Fred told them. “One more thing. We found their meeting place. It’s an abandoned warehouse not far from Tina’s Pub. Algier sets up the meetings and lets Wright know when Garmer will be there to meet with him.”

  “A warehouse,” Gwen mused. “Any chance that’s where Wright murdered the women?”

  “Good question. I’ll let you know,” Fred told her. “We haven’t had time to search the premises, but I’ll make it top priority.”

  “CC and I were going to pay another visit to Tina’s today,” Gwen told him. “Is that still a good idea?”

  “By all means. I have a man working with Sammy around the clock in the area, so I don’t think you need to worry about your safety. If Wright does show up and see that you’re still nosing around, it may force him into making a quick decision. One way or another, it would be good to get him on tape talking about the women he killed. If it goes the other way, and causes him to try to go into hiding, we’ll nab him and have plenty of time to interrogate him while he sits in prison,” Barzak explained.

  “And this time he won’t have his team sitting by to pamper him,” Scott said enthusiastically.

  “Exactly.” Fred smiled. “The loneliness and despair you experience in a prison setting, when all your so-called friends have quickly turned on you to save their own necks, does wonders for changing your tune.”

  * * *

  Tina’s was as deserted as it was the last time Gwen and CC had been there; the only other customer was one young man at the bar. The waitress was standing with her elbows resting comfortably on the bar and her hands on her cheeks, chatting with the man.

  They chose the same table in the back as they had on their previous visit and waited patiently for the waitress.

  She finally finished her conversation with the man and sauntered over. “Hey, I remember you. You’re those two cops, aren’t you?”

  “Yes, we are,” CC answered.

  “You know, that man has come in a couple times since you were here, but he hasn’t caused any more trouble. He always sits alone, has two cocktails, and leaves. I keep your card in my pocket,” she said, pulling the crinkled business card from deep within her apron pocket. “Just in case.”

  “Thank you,” Gwen said. “And the man hasn’t met anyone else while he’s here?”

  “No. Not that I’ve seen. Of course, I have other customers to take care of. My feet and back are killing me by the time my shift is over. They have me watching the bar and the tables today. I had to stock the shelves this morning, run back and forth from the kitchen for the breakfast crowd, and then start all over for lunch. Soon we’ll be starting dinner and I’ve still got two more hours to work,” she complained. “I’m Rosa, by the way.”

  “If it’s not too much trouble, can we order a couple sandwiches?” Gwen asked.

  “Oh, sure. The special today is roast beef on rye. It’s very good. Served with cole slaw and potato salad.”

  Gwen looked at CC and she nodded. “We’ll take two of those and two diet Cokes please.”

  “I thought I’d crack up in the middle of her tirade,” CC whispered when Rosa had left to get their order.

  “Yeah, me too,” Gwen giggled. “I really don’t think we can count on her observations. She seems awfully…how can I say this nicely…well, she seems awfully flaky, don’t you think?”

  “That’s an understatement. I think the more politically correct word is ‘wacko,’ ” CC laughed.

  Rosa brought their drinks and said the sandwiches would be ready shortly. She then went back to the bar to resume her conversation with the young man. Gwen and CC chatted about the most important features they wanted to look for in a new house.

  After twenty-five minutes, Gwen started getting annoyed. “How long does it take to slap together a couple of sandwiches?” she complained.

  “I think Rosa forgot about us,” CC admitted. “There are three of them now.”

  While they had been talking another man had come in, obviously a friend of the first. Rosa was talking animatedly with the two.

  “I’ll go find out what’s happening with our lunch,” Gwen said, but as she was starting to get up, Wright came in and sat with his back to them in the middle of the bar. “Uh, I think I’ll wait.”

  They heard him call to Rosa and demand a drink. As before, he belted it down quickly and rudely asked for another. As she was serving his second beverage, Rosa happened to glance at them and a look of shocked recognition flashed on her face. It was obvious she finally remembered they were waiting to be served. Wright followed her gaze and turned to them with a look of astonishment. His expression quickly turned to rage.

  “What the fuck…” He pulled away from the bar causing the barstool to come crashing down to the floor. Without stopping to right the stool, he strode quickly to their table. “You fucking cunts spying on me again?”

  “Just having a bite to eat,” Gwen said confidently.

  “Three thousand places for ‘a bite to eat’ in this city, and you just happen to be here?” he said sarcastically. “I’m not buying it. What the hell do you want from me?”

  “Nothing. Like I said, we’re going to eat our sandwiches and leave. It’s a free country. We can eat anywhere we chose,” Gwen said, standing her ground.

  “You fucking bitch. You’ll be sorry you messed with me.”

  “Is that a threat?” CC asked.

  “You’re damn right it’s a threat. I don’t want to see you messing in my business again or I’ll…I’ll…” He paused.

  “Kill me?” Gwen finished for him.

  “The world would be a better place,” he said and stalked off.

  At the bar he slammed down his drink and left, leaving the barstool lying on the floor.

  When Wright was gone, Rosa hurried to their table with their sandwiches. “I’m sorry it took so long,” she apologized. “What’s that guy got against two nice-looking women like you anyway?”

  “Oh, he’s just the cranky type,” CC replied. “I don’t think he likes women in ge

  “He sure has an ax to grind against you,” Rosa insisted. “You ex-lovers or something?”

  Both CC and Gwen burst out laughing.

  “I guess not, huh? Well, he sure has a temper and didn’t leave a dime for a tip,” Rosa said, storming over to the bar and setting the stool upright.

  Chapter Thirty-Eight

  The Dive was deserted, so both CC and Gwen made it home shortly after ten p.m.

  “This is the first time we’ve been home before midnight in the past two weeks,” Gwen said happily.

  “Let’s watch a movie! We can cuddle on the couch with the boys!” CC suggested.

  “Sure. You want to go for a walk with us first? Peanut and Cashew are kind of chomping at the bit here to get out,” Gwen replied.

  “I’ll be with you as soon as I change into my sweats,” CC answered. “Give me a minute.”

  Gwen put the leashes on the dogs and waited on the front porch for CC to get ready. Looking around, she noticed a dark car about a half block away, a figure sitting low in the driver’s seat. She pulled the dogs back inside and grabbed her service weapon from the front closet, strapping it over her left shoulder under her jacket.

  “I’m ready,” CC said, bouncing out of the bedroom.

  “We may have a bit of a problem. I think we’re being watched, so let’s take our guns in case we run into any trouble, okay?” Gwen said calmly so as not to get CC unduly rattled.

  “You think it’s Wright?” CC said, grabbing her weapon and shoving it in the waistline of her pants.

  “I don’t know. Could be.”

  “Best thing that could happen is if he tried to jump one of us and gave us cause to shoot. I’d love to wipe that evil smirk off his face once and for all,” CC said with all the bravado she could muster.

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