Vendetta (WeHo Book 7), page 1
Sherryl D. Hancock
Copyright © Sherryl D. Hancock 2017
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission from the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any person or persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Published by Vulpine Press in the United Kingdom in 2017
Cover by Armend Meha
Cover photo credit: Tirzah D. Hancock
As always to my wonderful wife without whom I wouldn’t have been able to understand love and know that it’s real.
To victims of molestation, you can get through this. I did.
Cody crawled out of bed on a Sunday morning, knowing she needed to get going. Glancing over her shoulder her eyes scanned the naked woman lying on the rumpled bed. She was a hot one; Cody knew for sure she had some scratches down her back for the experience. She moved her neck around stretching it, and heard it pop a couple of times. She walked into the master bathroom, closed the door, and turned on her music.
Turning to look in the mirror, she saw long, bloody claw marks. Whistling lowly to herself, she grinned. Wanna play rough, ya gotta pay, she thought to herself. Getting into the shower, she stood under the spray, letting it soak her back, feeling the water hitting the scratches. Somehow, it actually felt good. She stood with her arms braced spread eagle, her hands on the shower wall, head bowed. She sensed the other person in the room before she even stepped into view.
“Not the smartest thing to do,” Cody said, without raising her head.
“What?” the woman, who’d been sleeping minutes before, asked as she stepped into the shower behind Cody.
“Sneaking up on a cop,” Cody said evenly.
“I wasn’t trying to sneak up on you, Cody,” the woman said, sliding her hand around Cody’s slim waist, her tone chiding.
Cody shook her head slowly, not responding.
The woman positioned herself between Cody and the wall. Cody’s hazel eyes, that looked green at that point, stared back into the woman’s blue eyes. Leaning down, she captured her lips with hers, her kiss hungry and strong. Minutes later the woman was screaming in her orgasm, scratching new marks onto Cody’s back, even as Cody thought Oh shit! Her mothers would definitely hear that which meant she’d hear about it too.
Predictably, after the woman left, Cody couldn’t even remember her name. Lyric knocked on the bathroom door and opened it at Cody’s bidding.
“Jesus, Code, could you at least keep them down to a few decibels in the morning?” Lyric said, although her grin was rather prideful.
She’d already been chastised by her wife for being proud that her daughter made a woman scream that loudly.
As she got a look at Cody’s back, she saw the scratches. “And could you ever pick one that doesn’t have nails? Christ, you’re gonna get an infection,” she said, winking at her daughter in the mirror.
Cody grinned, knowing that Lyric was giving her a hard time out of a sense of duty, not any real ire.
“You headed back undercover this morning?” Lyric asked, leaning on the bathroom counter as Cody finished getting ready.
“Yeah, gotta hit the office first though. I need to check a few things.”
Cody shrugged. “Still kind of establishing myself at this point.”
Lyric nodded, knowing how the job of an undercover agent went, having been one herself.
“Well, at least stick around long enough to have breakfast with us. You know your mom needs to see your face for a while,” Lyric said, grinning.
“I know,” Cody said, smiling fondly. “I’ll be out in a few.”
Cody and Lyric both worked for the TRaCE task force. TRaCE stood for Tax Recovery and Criminal Enforcement. While it sounded benign, the task force was responsible for the disruption of multiple human trafficking endeavors in the Los Angeles area. At thirty-seven, Lyric was a supervising agent for the task force, having been an undercover agent for years prior to that. At twenty-two years old, Cody had been an undercover agent for a year. Her youthful looks made it easy for her to pass as an underage woman that would be targeted for human trafficking.
There was no doubt in Lyric’s mind that Cody was excellent at her job. The girl had a very quick mind, and was able to process not only mass amounts of information to come up with logical conclusions quickly, but she was also what Lyric called, “fast on her feet.” Cody was able to adjust quickly to situations to be what someone wanted her to be. It didn’t worry Lyric any less though, because there was no way not to worry about someone so young being put into such dangerous situations, let alone a person you loved.
Many of the modern human trafficking rings were run by gangs. Gangs in and of themselves were dangerous commodities. Add to that the nature of human trafficking and what it meant for a young woman caught in it; it was the stuff nightmares were made of for any parent. The concern was double for Savanna Falco, who not only had a daughter in danger constantly, but a wife as well. It took a strong woman to deal with two very dynamic women who put themselves in dangerous situations for a living.
Not that Savanna would have it any other way; she loved her “girls” endlessly and wouldn’t want to live any other way. At the age of thirty-six, Savanna was a board-certified psychiatrist, with a doctorate in psychology and a medical degree. She worked with both teens and adults. Her passion, however, was helping LGBT teens through a group home she ran.
Savanna had always known she was gay. Her father, who’d raised her from the age of two, was a gay man. She’d never thought for a moment that she might be straight; in fact the idea of being straight had always seemed absolutely foreign to her. The idea of having sex with men had sickened her, as she assumed the idea of having sex with a person of the same sex horrified a straight person. To her heterosexuality seemed like the anomaly, not homosexuality.
She’d been quite the conundrum for a number of her teachers over the years, but the precocious redhead had always maintained her staunch ideal that homosexuality was as normal as breathing. It had been for that reason she’d focused on helping young people struggling with their sexuality. It had also been the shortage of group homes open to gay youths that had her borrowing money from her father, a successful interior designer, to buy a home and get it made legal for a group home. She maintained a private practice as well, and pulled in good money annually from that source.
“How many prospective scars is she sporting now?” Savanna asked when Lyric emerged from the other side of the house, where the second master suite was located.
“Really wanna know?” Lyric asked, raising an eyebrow at her wife.
“No,” Savanna said, shaking her head and rolling her eyes. “That girl is going to stress me to death, I can feel it… Did she even know this one’s name?”
Lyric looked heavenward. “Didn’t even bother to ask, babe, there’s no point. It isn’t like she’ll be back, they never are.”
“Isn’t she eventually going to run out of women in Los Angeles?” Savanna asked.
“There are other counties, Mom,” Cody said, grinning as she walked into the kitchen.
“Could you maybe see one more than once?” Savanna asked.
Cody shrugged. “They bore me after the first night
Savanna looked over at Lyric, her look deadpan. “Oh, my God, she’s you,” she said simply.
Lyric did her best to subdue the grin, but she wasn’t successful, and her wife narrowed her eyes at her. She held up her hands surrendering.
“Not my fault,” she said.
Cody grinned, having heard a number of times how hard core a player Lyric had been when she’d met her mom. The problem had been that, at the time, Lyric dated men.
“You don’t understand,” Savanna said patiently to the third police officer she’d talked to that morning. “She’s missing.”
“Ma’am, she’s a runaway, that’s probably what she did,” the officer said, looking distinctly uncomfortable.
“Aren’t you the police?” Savanna practically screamed. “Isn’t running away illegal? What the fuck is wrong with you people?”
“Uh, ma’am,” a woman’s voice said from behind her.
Savanna turned, setting her eyes on Lyric Falco for the first time. What she saw was a woman in her late twenties, with white blond hair with dark roots worn a couple inches past her shoulders and cut in layers. She stood at five foot eight, with beautiful blue eyes, and the long lean body type that Savanna always fell for. On top of that, this woman was dressed in blue jeans, with black leather chaps, Harley Davidson boots, a blue denim shirt with the Harley Davidson logo, and a thick black leather band watch. She smelled of motorcycle grease and gasoline… a heavenly smell to Savanna who immediately thought, butch… nice…
“Hi,” Savanna said, momentarily forgetting her ire with the police department. Her light gold-brown eyes, framed with dark lashes, sparkled with interest as she smiled.
Without even being conscious of it, she flipped back her rich red hair that fell to just at her waist.
“You seem a bit upset,” the woman said, nodding toward the young man who’d been trying to help Savanna.
The young man disappeared immediately.
“Special Agent Lyric Falco,” she said, extending her hand to Savanna.
“Savanna Henning,” Savanna said, taking the woman’s hand and feeling the slight callouses of a motorcycle rider.
“Come with me, Ms. Henning,” Lyric said, leading the way to her desk.
“Special Agent?” Savanna queried. “You aren’t a police officer?”
“No, ma’am. I work for the Department of Justice, but rest assured, I’m a sworn peace officer,” she said, sitting down and gesturing for Savanna to take a seat in the chair next to her desk.
“Please call me Savanna,” Savanna said then. “I’m only twenty-nine, hopefully not much older than you,” she said, her tone indeed hopeful.
Lyric’s look flickered with amusement. “I’m thirty, ma’am,” she said.
“Oh,” Savanna said, oddly pleased by that news. “I never would have guessed.”
Lyric nodded. “What can I do for you, ma’am?” she asked, looking officious.
Savanna was taken back for a moment, suddenly remembering that she’d been a screaming nut a minute before, and this woman probably still thought she was.
Sighing, she began the story again. “I’m doing my residency in a group home,” she said. “And one of the girls who is usually very reliable hasn’t shown up for three days in a row, and I’m really worried about her. Everyone here seems to think that just because she’s been a runaway before, that she doesn’t matter to anyone now…” Savanna’s voice trailed off as she looked around at the people in the station.
Lyric nodded, pulling out her pen and jotting down a note on a pad in front of her.
“What’s the girl’s name?” she asked.
“Cody,” Savanna said. “Cody Wyatt.”
“Okay, can you give me a description?”
“She’s about five foot five, dark hair that’s cut short, and hazel eyes.”
“Yes,” Savanna said, nodding.
“What was she wearing the last time you saw her?”
“A black hoodie, blue jeans, and white sneakers.”
“And you said it’s been three days?”
“Yes, but she’s always in by curfew,” Savanna said. “The fact that she’s not is really worrisome.”
“Why?” Lyric asked gently, unlike the previous officers who’d treated her like she was some kind of overwrought parent.
“Cody is only thirteen,” Savanna said, “and she didn’t grow up in LA like a lot of the kids at the home. She’s from the Midwest somewhere. She doesn’t have the street smarts the other girls do… I’m really worried about her Agent Falco.”
Lyric nodded, her look contemplative. “I understand, ma’am.”
“Please stop calling me ma’am,” Savanna said, smiling. “I’m younger than you, for God’s sake.”
Lyric grinned, her blue eyes sparkling in the first real show of humor. “Got it,” she said, nodding. “I can do some checking,” she said, then. “Some local areas where the kids tend to gather, see if anyone’s seen her…”
“That would be wonderful,” Savanna said, reaching her hand out to touch Lyric’s in her joy that someone was finally listening to her.
Lyric’s look flickered with mild surprise at the intimate gesture, but then she put her hand over Savanna’s and patted it gently.
“Give me your contact information,” Lyric told her then, pushing the pad toward her, and holding out the pen.
As she wrote down her information, Savanna glanced at the notes Lyric had taken.
“You can read this?” she asked Lyric, her eyes taking in the characters that were far from any kind of English she’d ever read.
Lyric grinned. “Yep,” she said, “I tend to take notes in Italian,” she said. “Weird habit I picked up from my dad and brothers.”
“Oh,” Savanna nodded. “You’re Italian?”
“Falco?” Lyric queried, raising a dark eyebrow.
“I guess I could have guessed that one, huh?” Savanna asked, smiling.
“Most people could, yes,” Lyric said, her lips curled in a sardonic smile.
“I guess I’m a little slow on the uptake,” Savanna said, staring back at Lyric’s eyes, they were such a bright pretty blue…
“Well,” Lyric said, moving to stand dismissively. “I’ll get back to you by the end of the day with anything I can find out.”
Savanna stood with a stab of disappointment, but she nodded. “Thank you so much Agent Falco, you have no idea how much I appreciate your help.”
“Happy to help, ma—”
“Ah!” Savanna interrupted her holding up her hand.
Lyric grinned, nodding. “Sorry.”
“You’re forgiven,” Savanna said. “This time.”
“Duly noted,” Lyric replied.
It was later that evening when Savanna got a call from Lyric.
“Ms. Henning, this is Agent Falco,” Lyric said, identifying herself. “I wanted to let you know that none of my contacts have seen Cody Wyatt, but I will be taking a look myself tonight on my rounds. I will update you if I find anything.”
“Thank you so much, Agent Falco,” Savanna said, smiling at her end.
That night as Lyric drove through the various areas where the teens tended to circulate, especially the runaways, she didn’t see the girl. Later, however, when she was driving on the outskirts of town she saw a lone figure walking down the street. As she drew closer she saw a black hoodie, and white sneakers. She pulled over and she got out of the car.
Walking towards the slight girl, she saw her glance quickly over her shoulder.
“Cody?” Lyric queried.
She turned around then, looking at Lyric suspiciously.
“How do you know my name?” she asked, fear in her eyes.
Lyric lifted the side of her jacket, exposing her badge that was clipped to her belt.
“It’s okay,” she told the girl, who tensed at the sight of the badge, rather than relaxing. “You’re not in any trouble…”
“No,” Lyric said, taking a couple more steps to get closer. “Are you okay?” she asked then.
Cody’s look said ‘Why do you care?’ and it bothered Lyric that she was not only so suspicious of the police, but that she didn’t think that cops cared about her well-being.
Cody Wyatt took in the pained look on the cop’s face, what did that mean?
“I’m fine,” Cody said, her tone indicating that it was automatic.
Lyric nodded. “So where are you headed?” she asked.
Once again, the girl hesitated.
“I was going to offer you a ride,” Lyric told her gently.
Cody’s eyes went to the expensive-looking black sports car that Lyric had driven up in.
“What kind of cop drives a car like that?” she asked, her tone suspicious again.
Lyric chuckled. “The kind of cop that has a family full of Italians that won’t drive anything but Italian cars.”
Cody looked back at her for a long moment, trying to decide what to do at this point.
“Come on, Cody,” Lyric said. “It’s fuckin’ cold out here.”
Cody looked shocked at the cuss word, but grinned, nodding.
Lyric walked back her car, opened the passenger door for the girl, and waited for her. Cody got into the car, looking around at the interior. It was a really nice car, but she could tell it was old and restored. It smelled of leather and car polish.
Lyric got into the car on the driver’s side, glancing over at Cody as she did and seeing that the girl was trying to get her bearings. She started the car with a satisfying roar. She saw Cody’s eyes widen slightly and grinned over at her.
“Just love that feeling of power…” Lyric said in a dreamy tone.
Cody grinned. “What kind of car is this?”
As Lyric put the car into gear, she grinned. “It’s a 1962 Ferrari SI 250 GTO,” she said. “And I restored most of it myself.”
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