Tannum Friday : Operation Wolf

Tannum Friday : Operation Wolf

6 April 2017 @ 8:26 EST                  Location: Sydney CBD and surrounds

“Your face goes red every time he passes that window.”

Tannum Friday blushed a shade to rival a favourite flannel shirt and checked her intense stare. Immediately she looked away from the target and pulled at the dark beanie to conceal flushed cheekbones. Her simultaneous action underscored betrayal.

Focusing on a trio of shot glasses, the girl made a selection and skulled a viscous ruby liquid. The chaser promptly followed with one great, rounded bite from the accompanying apple. Deliberately ignoring her partner, the detective smiled.

“Mmm. Toffee apple. That’s pretty delicious Trix.” Tannum said, glancing at her friend beaming from behind the bar via the man beyond the pub’s art deco window.

Attentively licking puckered lips Tannum sculled the second shot.

“And you make that weird grunting sound.” Johnno insisted, mimicking the primal sound that came from deep within her throat. “Reminds me of humping wilder beast on the Discovery channel.”

“Piss off Johnno!” the female detective snorted pitching the Pink Lady in his direction.

He caught it easily, snapped off a chunk with a resounding crack and threw it back to her.

“Not bad.” She said catching it high above her head in her left hand. She took another bite and sculled the last shot. “Maybe you should do the rugby line outs this weekend. Never know. Might win a game.”

“Steady on.” A large freckled hand covered his heart in mock hurt. “We’re in the rebuilding phase.” Leaving his post by the front door, the ginger headed cop strolled casually towards her.

Tannum scoffed again. “That’s what they all say.”

Outside, in the line of vision beyond Johnno’s shoulder, the target stopped pacing, shoved the phone in his pocket and looked southwards along the tree-lined street.

“Come on. He’s on the move.” Tannum abruptly switched to work, scrunching the knitted hat into her pocket. Tipping her head forward, she ruffled out the flatness of her chestnut, nowhere length hair.

It flicked out in a confusion of beachy waves, framing her round face. Tannum pouted at the unruly mess, zipping the black leather jacket to just below flattish boobs.

Tightening the holster around tidy hips, her police issue glock settled into place. Tannum pushed a wayward strand to the back and it fell forward resting under her chin. At this, Tannum thought about the needling commentary that had led her to this point. Her mother. There was no pleasing that overly groomed woman. Ever.

At today’s unkempt effort, it would begin with, ‘Tannum Friday would you do something with that hair. For goodness sake, you look like you’re just out of bed.’ And it would always end with, ‘You’ll never get a man looking like that!’

As if that getting a man was the be all and end all of life for a woman. Tannum gave up trying and on her fourteenth birthday moved up the Queensland coast; slotting easily into a less complicated life with her father.

“Bite me.” Tannum scowled, dismissing her distracted thoughts as a sleek Mercedes pulled to the curb and MacKenzie Wright climbed into the front seat.

“Charming.” Johnno spoke, falling into step beside her.

She smiled apologetically. “Not you mate! Long story. I’ll drive.”

Chapter 2

“Fucking Geezuz.” Johnno pushed his partner into the double brick arch that was the doorway. “Take cover.” He yelled, scrambling behind the oversized concrete pots lining the entrance to the pub.

A number of well-placed shots penetrated a thick wall behind him, encouraging the bulky detective to stay low. Drawing his pistol from a shoulder holster, Johnno peered cautiously through the foliage.

The offender ducked into the side street circumventing the pub. Johnno glanced at Tannum.

“On it.” She yelled taking a short cut through the loos to the back beer garden and busy intersection. She scanned the perimeter and sidled up to the gated entry. Tannum checked her clip. A road bike was roaring an unmistakable growl of malice and arrogance. Despite the heavy traffic, it was already past her.

From the protection of the industrial bins, she watched the rider continue along the side street. Glancing at her surrounds again the detective formed a mental list. Outlaw Motor Cycle Gang member. Check. Alone. Check. Wearing his colours. Ba Bow.

Tannum stood and smiled. No need for rash behaviour. She knew the bike well; and just who belonged to it.

“You’re a long way from home.” She contemplated as the biker ran the red light.

“Get in.” Johnno yelled from the unmarked police car sliding into the curb beside her. “Did you see where he went?”

“Yes east along Parramatta Road. Next left.”

She added in a matter of fact tone, “We’ll never catch him Johnno. Not in this traffic. Besides we don’t need to chase him.”

“Yeah? How do you figure that?” They were already at the intersection.

“I know who it is.” She gripped the centre console as the car swayed.

“What?” The sirens wailed as he weaved through the morning rush hour.

Tannum remained calm. “I know him. He’s Ares. Heads the Queensland Chapter. I recognised the bike.”

“Ares? Ares headquarters are south west from here.” Johnno turned the sedan on a coin.

“Johnno, you can’t rock up and call him out. Do you know anything about Ares? You’ll be dead before you reach the welcoming party.” Tannum reasoned. “You’re leaving a crime scene. That’s an offence. Seriously. Stop.”

“Like fuck I will! That arse-hole nearly killed me.” He slowed momentarily to check the intersection before belting through. “Request back up.”

“But he didn’t.” She insisted, facing his grim expression. Tannum pulled rank. “Constable. Go back to the pub. Wait for forensics.” She paused, adding softly. “Besides we have other things to think about.”

“Oh yeah, what?” He glanced across at her controlled stillness.

“Why is Ares protecting MacKenzie Wright from the NSW Police Service.”

Johnno raked an agitated hand through bright red hair. In exasperation he flicked the sirens off and turned into a side street.

Tannum opened her mouth to speak and promptly shut it as Johnno raised his hand.

“Johnathan McCrae.” He answered the mobile mounted on the dash.

“Copy. What’s the address? On it. Thanks.” He punched the details into the GPS.

“What now?”

“Break and enter at a warehouse in Concord. And a body.”

Chapter 3

It was after midnight. Tannum pushed the heavy timber door, stepping into the dimly lit interior. She found the publican standing where she’d left him earlier that morning. He waved from behind the bar.

“Sorry about this morning Harry. Did the local boys look after you?” Tannum winced.

“Yeah. Good enough. Don’t think about it Tannum. This shit happens every other week.” He shrugged. “Never hurts patronage. Trix made you dinner. It’s in the fridge. Want me to zap it?”

“Ahhh?” She skimmed the interior, her gaze holding on a figure in the corner. “Maybe later. I wouldn’t mind two small glasses and a square bear. Any chance?”

“Take away you said Tannum?” He asked with a broad wink.

“Thanks.” She flashed him a smile, ruffled her hair and ambled to the corner table. Sliding into the booth seat directly opposite him, Tannum set the items on the table between them. The detective poured two generous slugs, and held her glass in front. “Salute.”

“Salute. Miss Tannum.” His raspy, sexy voice matched his hellish appearance.

As he held his hand up to clink her glass, she noticed the skinned knuckles and quickly glanced away.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked, dark eyes boring through her. His hair was cropped close at the sides. Thick lengths at the crown raked with the remnants of finger marked tunnels.  Places where his hands had restlessly held.

He’d changed his clothes too, replacing the business suit with a dark knit jumper and jeans. A navy woollen duffle coat was slung carelessly across the seat beside him.

Tannum swallowed the fire liquid and poured herself another. She tried not to gasp as the dark rum took her breath and the proximity of him filled her senses: confidence and Armani. Always Armani.

“The pleasure’s mine, Mac.”

She said smoothly at last, reaching his eyes in a veiled unwavering gaze. A brief affair and twelve months on she still thought of him every other minute.

A tell tale pulse lurched in her neck. Tannum watched his mouth twitch in half smile before he reached over to touch it gently, tracing a seductive line along silky smoothness.

“Nice hair cut. Last time we met I could wrap my hands through the lengths and hold you to me.” He flicked the ends rhythmically between his fingers. “I liked it. Very much.”

Tannum let her head cradle in his open palm.

MacKenzie smiled. “This is better.” He said, placing his thumb at her lips. She pressed them to him.

Tannum blinked slowly pushing the emotions away.

“Bit much today boss, don’t you think?” Her voice cracked and she cleared it with another gulping mouthful.

“Everything is necessary. You know I don’t take chances.”

“Yes but shooting at my partner?”

“He was never in danger. Ares never miss a target, particularly that one. If he wanted your man dead, you’d be at the morgue today paying your respects.”

He drained the glass and poured himself another. She focused on the glass in front of her.

“Speaking of Ares. That’s an interesting relationship you have happening there.”

“As I said, Agent Friday. Everything is necessary.” His conceited nonchalance irritated Tannum.

“For goodness sake MacKenzie, inviting Ares into our fold is dangerous.” Tannum whispered angrily. “We can’t control them.   Ares is a law unto itself. You’re a fool if you think you can trust them in any deal. And, he will want more than I’m willing to give. I hope you have thought this through, from every angle.”

She looked at him sombrely.

“They’re cop killers Mac. It’s their greatest hobby. Cop. Killers.” She repeated the final words with emphasis.

“Little one you cannot play by the rules all the time.” He soothed. “I have your back. Have faith. The Agency trusts me. Do you trust me?”

Tannum had no choice. Working within The Agency Group, TAG, was as dangerous as it was complicated. The detective had spent years infiltrating the organised crime outfit.

Calculated initiative was a trait well supported by TAG. Hell, she used it to her benefit regularly. It allowed her to float seamlessly between the clandestine layers of her life.

Playing ‘good cop’ was Tannum’s particular role. The detective met his dark eyes.

Imminent danger satisfied her psychotic need to live in perpetual treachery. Tonight, it was sitting directly opposite her, convincing her to trust him with each caressing stroke of his thumb on her outstretched hand.

“Of course I trust you Mac. I’ve trusted you since the day we met on that Queensland beach.” She admitted.

“You see. That was easy.” He smiled devilishly, his mood suddenly lifting. “What are your plans for the rest of the evening?”

Tannum coughed. She shrugged. “Go up to my room, eat dinner and hit the sack. It’s been a long day.”

“Exactly what I was thinking. Get your things.”

Chapter 4

“I tried to ring you last night.” Johnno announced as Tannum entered the squad muster room. “You must be a heavy sleeper. I called four times.” The constable considered his partner, who blushed instantly.

“Sorry love.” She said. “I didn’t hear it.” She checked the mobile device. “Bugger, left it on silent. What did you need?”

“I was thinking about our mate MacKenzie Wright.”

“Oh yeah?” Tannum turned to face the coffee machine. God almighty, her whole body was aching at the hands of Wright. She could scarcely think today without remembering the physical urgency of him. Of course, Johnno would want to have a long conversation about that man this morning. The colour in her cheeks deepened, burning behind her eyes.

“Do you want one?” she managed to say, keeping her back to him. Tannum loaded the double shot basket, tamping the coffee grinds firmly. She emptied the filter and began the process again.

“No thanks. Anyways, I was looking into his business dealings and I came across an article based on his alleged influence over some corrupt cops in Queensland. It’s a few years old now.”

“A journo? You’re putting your faith in an old newspaper article?”

“No. But, this particular article caused a mini storm and was the trigger for the Royal Commission. You don’t remember? It was pretty significant.” He looked at her back.

“Of course I remember the Royal Commission. Most of us up there stayed the hell away. I don’t remember Wright ever being mentioned.” She responded defensively.

“Do you know what else I found?” Johnno asked.

“Surprise me.” She sipped the espresso and felt the endorphins release in her brain.

“He’s so clean – his image on line. I checked out his webpage and followed all the links … everything is schmicko.   Not one bit of dirt. It’s almost like a false identity. You don’t get a feel for him as a person. He’s squeaky, shiny and polished.”

Tannum drained the cup. “Have you ever been in business Johnno?”

“No, but my dad heads an international grain selling desk. Why?”

“What does his webpage look like?” Tannum asked, turning to face him.

“Well business like but with personality.”

“MacKenzie Wright runs a highly successful off shore Investment Company. He wants to attract a certain type of clientele. They aren’t really interested in personality. They just want him to make them money and shit loads of it. Do you see the difference?” Tannum raised a questioning brow.

“I guess so.” Johnno relented slightly. “But I did a little more digging. I rang the journo.”

“What?” She squeaked.

“Yeah she was really helpful and put me onto a source. He rang this morning. Seems I was right. Mackenzie Wright is not as clean cut as he would like us to believe.”

“How so?” Tannum lowered her voice.

“Remember the Westlorn Massacre in 2010?”

“How could I forget? Thankfully I was stationed at Julia Creek – a probie. Cops verses Ares in a shoot out at the clubhouse. It’s imprinted in my brain because it was the first major incident after I joined up. I’ve been intrigued by Ares ever since.” Tannum paused. “That’s how I knew our guy yesterday.”

“Yeah, well the rumour at the time was that one of the victims was related to a well connected business man. And this bloke blamed the cops. He was hell bent on stringing up those involved after the event.”

“And you think this business man was MacKenzie Wright.”

“I’m pretty certain. I’m looking into his family tree. If he has links with Ares in Queensland, it would explain why your mate yesterday took a couple of pot shots at us.”

“Yeah, well you can’t build a case on rumour and innuendo Johnno. Give me something substantial and I’ll be more receptive. Do you have anything for me about our dead guy yesterday?”

“Yep. Took a call first thing. Preliminary suggests he was involved in a fight. Details just came through.”

“A fight? What sort of fight?”

“Fist fight by all accounts. Died of drug overdose.”

“Do we have a name?”

“Clive Norton. History of break and enters, drug offences. Nothing major. Just your small time regular using scum-bag. No history of dealing.”

“Is he on the registered informant list?”

“Yes.”

“That could account for this.” Tannum said, flicking through the early report in front of her. “For someone who didn’t deal he was pretty cashed up.” And no mobile phone, she thought.

“What are you saying? You don’t agree it’s accidental overdose?”

“I think, regardless of our opinion of his lifestyle choices, we should look at everything. We need to find out who in the squad uses him and why. And if any of our team paid him a visit yesterday.”

“Are you suggesting one of us topped him? I know you’re new to the squad but shit Tannum, that’s pretty disrespectful.”

“I’m not saying that all. I’m trying to figure out how he fits within our current jobs.   Perhaps he wasn’t careful. Perhaps he had a big mouth.”

Her phone chimed an incoming text. ‘I need to see you. Meet me at Providore 94.’ Tannum’s eyes glazed over.

“Can I leave that with you Johnno? To talk to the team I mean. Then you can follow up on MacKenzie Wright. I’ll do the leg work on our dead addict.” She looked at him.

“Alright.” He softened at her puppy dog eyes, adding. “That line of questioning is probably better coming from me anyway.”

“Thanks.” Tannum paused. “I need food. I’m popping downstairs. Do you want something?”

“No. Ruthie fixed me breakfast this morning.”

Chapter 5

Tannum scanned the café interior and took a seat behind the door. From here she could observe everything and everyone in the busy shop without herself drawing notice from the other patrons.

The waitress approached and the detective placed the order with specific instructions. It was the same always. A habit. Coded for fellow operatives, not that Tannum expected the girl to know.

“Here you are.” Her tone was friendly as she placed the steaming fruit muffin on the table. The vanilla yoghurt was set to the side, drizzled with honey, pistachio and cinnamon. “The chai won’t be long. I also have this.” She said dipping into the pocket of her apron to extract an envelope.

“Oh.” Tannum masked her surprise and disappointment. “Thank you.”

Tannum casually glanced around the room, slicing the seal with her knife.

She stared at the film stills, gasping as the café shrunk around her. Through her lashes, the detective checked every unlikely suspect. Then casually tucking the envelope into her bag she stood and walked towards the door.

“Friday.” Her voice was far away as she answered her ringing phone.

“I miss you.” The familiar raspy voice began. “I can’t stop thinking about last night.”

Tannum stopped outside the café’s courtyard entrance. “Yeah? Well, you have a funny way of showing it.” She hurtled into the mouthpiece. “You can shove last night right up your …”

“Tannum!”

“I’m at 94.” She said with emphasis. “Obviously you’re not. It’s a dog arse act. Filming us having sex! We’re on the same team! Fuck you Mac, I trusted you. Now you listen to me. Let me finish what I started here and stay the hell away.” Her eyes flashed angrily.

“94?”

“The café near work. You know, seeing as you had to see me and all.” Suddenly it dawned on her. “That wasn’t you.”

Tannum glanced inside. “The waitress.” She fingered the glock strapped to her hips. “I’m going to find out who gave her the envelope.”

MacKenzie inhaled sharply. “Wait! I’m almost there. I’m about 15 minutes.”

“I can’t be seen with you! You’re a suspect in a murder investigation. I’ll meet you at Seven. 9pm.” Tannum pressed end.

Chapter 6

“You look a bit perplexed Tannum.” Johnno perched on the edge of her desk as she gathered her wits.

“That’s because I don’t like where my thoughts are leading me.”

“Oh?”

“A funny thing just happened. Last night I left my sunnies in the car. So on my way back in just now, I took a short cut through the wash bay. At the drain I saw a white chalky rim. I noticed it because it reminded me of lumpy milk when it goes off.”

Johnno sat back against the desk backing board and nodded.

“So I went over to it. When I rubbed it between my fingers I realised it was crushed gypsum. Yesterday when we got back in the car you made comment about the white powder all over your shoes and the splash up the fender from that puddle? Do you remember? After the job involving Clive Norton.”

Johnno nodded.

“That white shit was gypsum.”

“Yeah I know. So?” he said.

“I haven’t washed the car and neither have you. There aren’t many places around here that sell bulk gypsum.”

“Your point being the person who washed their car also visited the crime scene.”

Friday nodded. “Yes, and that person was Constable Child.”

“Constable Child? Ross Child? He was first response at the pub yesterday.” Johnno stated.

“Yes.” She sighed, rubbing her hand across her forehead.

“Child’s on secondment to armed holdup. He told me he didn’t know our dead guy.” Johnno said defensively. “Took the car home and on the way called in to see a mate. Had too many drinks and bummed the night on the sofa. Nothing mysterious about that.”

“Johnno, I left here at midnight. I was the last one to go. That car was here then. I know so because I nearly broke my hip on the side mirror as I walked passed it. I checked the underside of the car, just now. There is a lump stuck under the wheel arch, right at the back.” She showed him the photograph on her phone.

“How do you know it was Child?”

“The log book lists his registered number.” She added. “He took it at 5am, yesterday morning. So my question is, why lie?”

Chapter 7

“You made it then?” Tannum greeted her agency boss icily.

“I’ve been here since five. I needed to see you.” MacKenzie reached for her hand.

The detective stepped out of reach. “A pity. Must be nice to have the evening off. Most of us have our work cut out.”

“How many times do I have to apologise?” Exasperation raked his hair in agitated fingers.

“You shouldn’t be here in the first place. This whole scenario is too ridiculous for words. Twelve months ago you literally left my bed and disappeared. This week you show up in the middle of my sting. And here is the icing on the cake,” Tannum paused for emphasis. “Now there’s a sex film and we don’t know who took it. That fucking waitress was a plant. I wish you’d never come to Sydney.”

“TAG needs me to step in. It was too risky to contact you before now. Twelve months ago I was sent to Russia. To collect intel on a new operator. RETO has stepped up.”

“RETO! As in the terror organisation?”

MacKenzie nodded. “A sympathizer in the NSW cops is manufacturing to fund RETO’s operations. TAG’s pretty pissed. It’s our turf.”

“You know about Constable Child then.”

“TAG sent me your intel. You think he’s got the ability? He’s pretty green.”

“Or easily influenced.” She said offhandedly. “Someone’s prompting him.”

“Did you locate the owner of that mobile phone number?”

“Not yet.” She lied. “I was tied up with Johnno and his wild theories.”

“Yeah? What would they be?”

“Nothing to worry about. So,” she paused. “You and Ares. Is that why you brought him in? Because he can play dirty, like RETO.”

“Something like that.” Mac looked solemnly at her. “I’m sorry Tannum. I truly am. I should never have let you back into my life in that way. I was selfish.”

“Yeah, well. It’s done now. I’ll be in touch.” The detective turned on her heel and left him standing in the dark recesses of the scrapyard junk pile.

Chapter 8

“Tell me what you know about our friend MacKenzie Wright, Constable McCrae.” Tannum began the morning briefing with a direct question to her partner.

She’d covertly tracked Constable Child for a fortnight now and come up with nothing other than his preference for paid sex in the back of a squad car. Either he knew she was onto him or they were both being played. That led her back to Mac.

“Did you know MacKenzie Wright is not his real name?”

“No.” Tannum choked.

“His real name is MacKenzie Wright Paskah. His parents are pharmacists. Relocated from South Africa to start a small family Pharmacy in Rockhampton, Queensland.”

“There you go.”

“That’s not all. They were foster parents, taking in kids at risk.”

“Right.” Tannum remained wary.

“I’ve managed to get a hold of the names of some of the longer term kids. Here is an interesting adjunct. There was a family – a boy and girl, who were taken in by the good Paskah family in the late 1980s. The boy was six and the girl, just a babe. They were regulars, staying in and out of Paskah’s care until the boy turned 18 and was legally able to look after his sister.”

Johnno continued.

“Wright was six years old when the little boy and girl came into his home. I imagine three young children formed quite a bond. Do you want to know the names of the children, Tannum?”

“I have a feeling you’re going to tell me anyway.”

Johnno glanced around the empty room and perched on the edge of her desk.

“The girls name is or was Meadow Lark. The boy was christened Robin Lark.”

“Interesting names.” She replied, leaning back in the chair to take in his large frame.

“Robin Lark known always as Robbie L, aka leader of Ares Queensland Chapter. His baby sister, Meadow was killed in the siege at Westlorn in 2010. She was hiding in one of the houses on the block. ‘Caught in the crossfire’ the official report said.”

“Did ballistics ever work out whose gun fired the fatal shot?” Tannum asked carefully.

“No. But there was strong feeling it belonged to a Senior Constable Thomas Goodwood.”

“I remember that name. From somewhere.” She stared into the space behind him. “A Constable Goodwood was mentioned at the Royal Commission. We all shrugged it off. There was a lot of crazy name calling at the time. Nearly every second person was being mentioned for something. Nothing ever came of Goodwood though.”

“My informant insists that she was murdered by Goodwood and that it was made to look different. Meadow was to make a statement against Goodwood the following week. He’d allegedly drugged and raped her. Wright was organizing legal representation for her.”

“Wait.” Tannum lurched forward. “Goodwood. Any relation to Inspector Goodwood… you know our boss?”

“I believe they are brothers.” He said quietly.

“Right. How reliable is your source?” Tannum asked, thinking quickly.

“Solid enough to instigate a comprehensive search warrant. Regarding both Goodwood brothers and Wright.”

Tannum drummed her fingers quickly on the counter top of her desk.

“Use Walter. He’s the only Judge I trust.” Her phone buzzed with a message. She glanced at it and paled.

“What is it?” Johnno never missed.

“Nothing.” She looked at him and his no nonsense expression. “Fuck it.” She suddenly said. “I trust you. This is the second message from this number.”

“What does it say?”

“Along the same lines as last time. ‘Meet me at 94’.”

Johnno looked at her pale face. “Not a secret admirer.”

“It’s coming from a listed phone number.” She paused. “Clive Norton.”

“He’s dead.” Johnno whispered.

“I know.”

“Did you go the first time?”

“Yes.” She blushed. “I thought it was someone else. They didn’t show.”

“Well this time I’m coming too.” He stood, squaring his broad shoulders.

“Johnno, who have you told about this line of enquiry? Regarding Wright, Goodwood and Ares.”

“Only you.”

Tannum raked her hair. “I don’t know what to do.” She mumbled. “I seriously don’t know what to do.” Shaking hands covered her face.

“I’m going first. To the café. I’ll check it out.”

“No.” She drew out the word with a moan. “He wants me.”

Johnno watched a strange expression cross her features.

“You think it’s Wright.”

She sighed, nodding. “Mac is our link to Clive Norton’s murder. Late yesterday I checked the mobile phone records for this number. There was a call received at 10.05pm the night before Clive was killed. There was another call from the same number at 4am. That’s within the hour the autopsy suggests time of death.”

She handed Johnno the phone records and continued. “And on the morning of the sting I noticed Wright’s skinned knuckles. That’s what I was intently looking at. His hands. In case I’m wrong, how fast can you scramble a covert team together?”

“Everyone’s in the meal room. Ten minutes and we’ll be in place.”

Tannum nodded. “Go.”

She knew what she had to do. A bullet proof vest fitted snugly to her chest. Tannum checked the police issue glock.

Chapter 9

With a stealthy glance, Tannum scanned the café interior. She saw him sitting alone in the corner. He looked like hell. Her emotions caught her and she turned away.

The detective went to the counter, placed her order and took her seat at the table near the door.

It wouldn’t be long now and he would make his move. She heard the distinct roar of the bike she knew so well. She hoped the boys were in position.

The muffin arrived with the Chai and Tannum glanced at the preparation. The yoghurt was missing, along with the honey, cinnamon and pistachio.

The detective caught the attention of the waiter and requested the full order, stalling for time. As the anxiety crept into her throat, Tannum excused herself when the condiments arrived.

The men waited. Johnno noticed the bike as it lapped the block again. Still they waited for her command.

Impatient for the detectives return, Wright left his seat and strode to the empty table. A muffin with a side platter and Chai grew cold.

“No!” He shouted running towards the external service door beside the bathrooms. “Tannum! Wait!”

Robbie L slowed and in one athletic leap, Tannum stretched her long leg over the back of the bike and cuddled into him. He accelerated, cutting a menacing path through the city traffic. The detective unzipped the biker’s leather jacket, pulled it back and gently bit into him, her soft lips nibbling a trail along his neck.

He growled his approval.

At this she pushed closer to him, resting her cheek against his shoulder and wrapped her arms tightly to him.

She’d done everything that was necessary. Despite her fears, it was time to add another layer to her life.

The police closed in. Wrights phone blinked a desperate warning.

‘Be the lamb. Run with wolves.’

MacKenzie Wright made his choice. Tannum Friday meant more to him than revenge on any Goodwood.

Chapter 10

Robbie L didn’t speak until they reached Byron Bay. Well not directly to Tannum. Hours out of Sydney their journey abruptly stopped in a remote clearing, located east of the Pacific highway

Tannum was glad to be off the road bike. Slowly uncurling, the detective silently stretched the length of her back as her knees unlocked painfully. In the strumming beat of cicada’s thrum she considered this new predicament.

Her mind traced their route around the back roads through Newcastle, to Grahamstown Dam and the ring road that would bring them back to the Pacific Highway.

Surrounded by dense coastal heath and bracken under growth, the area could be best described as a local council works bay. Tannum roused her senses and lightly fingered the glock pistol attached to her hip. Hasty action would bring the already tense situation out of her control. She waited as a vehicle concealed behind a load of road base brought itself into focus.

The sole occupant, dressed in full leathers now strode towards them. Two long greying ginger plaits hung at the side of his terrifying face and, recognizing him from the warrants board, Tannum quickly looked away. He was a Viking warrior and as he met Robbie L, the outlaw biker consigliere stood head and shoulders above his boss.

Clearly the topic of conversation, the pair looked at Tannum in unison and as the girl lifted her head to face them again, the Viking warrior assessed her in one detestable upwards glance from combat boots to the top of her pretty chestnut head. He looked like he could wring her neck right then and there. Or worse.

After a brief exchange between them, Robbie L left her to pee behind a tree.

Not wanting to be alone with the crime gang’s second in charge, the detective took her cue and did the same. Tannum returned to the small clearing, keeping a respectful distance, her eyes on the ground and wits finely tuned.

Another vehicle rolled in and the Viking giant secured the bike in the back of the Pantac. The crew of two disappeared. Robbie L glanced in her direction and strode towards the black sports BMW, his powerful legs and broad shoulders set in determination.

At the car boot, he shrugged out of the leather coat, concealing it at the back. Next came his dark t-shirt. Tannum gasped at his naked torso, marked heavily with an array of healing cuts and bruises. He raked a damp hand towel over his face and neck and through tightly bound curls, previously constrained by the bike helmet. Every movement was deliberate and exacting.

Tannum moved closer as he pulled the expensive business shirt around muscled shoulders. She was a good half head shorter than he, although, it was hard to tell as she tried to disappear into the dirt. What the hell had she been thinking to jump on the back of his bike?

He buttoned the shirt and cuffs in the same deliberate unhappy action. At his look of utter distaste when he turned to face her, Tannum quickly reconsidered her explanation and shut her mouth.

Without a word, Robbie L eased into the sports car and she did the same.

A precaution, she assumed, at this change of transportation.

Detective Sergeant Tannum Friday held her nerve. When the time was right, she’d let the cops find her. For now, she let the outlaw biker take the lead and hoped that as the reality of her situation settled on her brain, she could orchestrate a solution.

Chapter 11

“Make yourself comfortable.” Robbie L said at last, staring through French doors towards a timber deck and the coastal heath beyond.

“Where exactly are we?” Tannum glanced around the secluded one bedroom shack, clad in weathered timber and restrained elegance. Close by, the surf break pounded restlessly upon the evening. What she wouldn’t give to strip off for a swim.

“You can take it off. The glock. You’re safe.” Robbie L ignored her question, checking windows and doors until he was satisfied. He poured himself a hefty scotch and sat facing her in a classic Eames, resting his pistol on an outstretched thigh. He unbuttoned another on the business shirt and raked his thick closely cropped hair in exhaustion.

“Fuck it,” Tannum mumbled, stripping off her leather coat, placing it on the back of another Eames. The humidity was killing her.

Next she placed her glock on the coffee table between them in a gesture of trust, before unfastening the webbing strap and holster, dropping them onto her coat.

The detective fully stretched, lithe arms releasing muscle fatigue and her t-shirt soaked with nervous sweat. Robbie L watched every move and as the silent tension between them grew, Tannum wondered yet again why a cop killer was interested in keeping her alive.

“Mind if I have a tub?” she asked after a few awkward moments and disappeared gratefully to the solace of the bedroom. Tannum felt his broody eyes follow her, watching through the open plantation shutters dividing the bedroom from the lounge as she undressed. She daren’t shut them and squaring her shoulders, stepped directly into the open shower recess.

Under the gentle spray, Tannum washed the road dust and stupidity from her. As the last thread of foam glided along her thigh the detective felt him behind her and tensed as he turned off the water. Tracing her spine from arse to neck, his fingers wrapped along her jaw and spread to her throat. He turned her to face him. Tannum shut her eyes.

“Look at me pig.” He growled.

Robbie L snatched the fear from her beautiful eyes as his kiss filled her mouth. He linked her hands, holding them against the travertine tiles. Tannum responded to his unexpected tenderness, meeting his passionate kiss with her own frightened reaction. Satisfied at her submission, he turned and left.

Chapter 12

The first rays of morning sun broke the treetops, or so Tannum pretended. Entwined in the cotton blanket, a restless night on the couch was ending that very minute.

Along a sketchy beach track, the soft sand began to firm underfoot and without breaking stride, the detective met the water. Relishing freedom from the sticky humid air, she dove into a wave and came out gasping and disoriented as the choppy surf dragged her under. Another forceful wave shoved at her back and as the third appeared she duck dived under it and swam strongly behind the shore break. Body surfing her way back, Tannum emerged from the sea as the dawn split the sky. She collapsed on the sand, satisfied, watching the night sky fade.

Robbie L dropped the board, dripping from the early morning surf behind her, shrugged out of the wetsuit and pulled it to his waist. Tannum’s furtive glance took in the bruised, muscular frame and the even honey colour of his skin.

A tribal pattern was inked around his shoulder. It extended from the base of his neck to his left wrist. The swirling intricate design begged a closer look. He was the right height and build. In another situation Tannum knew she’d be more than tempted to have a crack at getting his attention.

“Nice morning for it, although its robust. Pretty choppy around that rip.”

She said not looking again in his direction, acutely conscious of her own nakedness, save for a pair of knickers, as she sprawled horizontal on the towel. Tannum looked skywards, her face turning as pink as the morning clouds.

“Yeah. You know the surf?” he asked, plopping on the sand beside her, his manner relaxed in the pre-dawn darkness.

“Spent most of my life at the beach … in various Queensland locations. That’s how I know Mac. We lived in the same community for a while.” The detective stated pointedly, referring to their common friend Mackenzie Knight.

Robbie L nodded beside her. An odd chemistry cracked between them and Tannum squashed it.

“Robbie. What happens now?” the detective blurted. “We’re on the same team. You know that right?”

“So I’ve been told Detective.” He sat up, brown eyes looking directly into hers. Tannum watched as hints of his islander heritage reflected across his intimidating expression and assessing gaze. At her steady expression, suddenly, his face slightly softened and the biker chuckled.

“You remind me of my sister. It’s uncanny.” Robbie shook his head in amazement.

“Meadow?”

He lay on the ground and looked at the sky. Somehow it was easier to talk to the cop that way. Mac trusted this wench and that should be enough for him. But there was something about this particular job … then again, wasn’t there always something with him. He wasn’t President of Ares because of his good looks.

“Yeah. Meadow. You have that same trust in the face of adversity. When things are stacked against you, there’s a confidence in yourself and something more. My sister was the same. Never looked like flinching.”

“I’m deeply sorry for your loss. I mean it Robbie. It wasn’t right what happened to her.” Tannum rolled to face him, her face reflecting his sadness. “Is that why I’m here, with you? Because I remind you of Meadow?’’

“Don’t flatter yourself Detective.” The biker’s expression closed and he rose.  “Mac asked for my help and that’s all you need to know.” Putting out his hand he pulled her up to stand in close.

Wrapping her in the towel, he tucked the end between her breasts. His hands slid down her body to rest on her hips. Tannum watched his poker face and cocked her head to one side.

“You’re mug shots don’t do you justice.” She quipped with sincerity in the small space between them. “Mr. President, you’re much more handsome in the flesh.”

Robbie L gazed at her in sheer astonishment before erupting in a loud laugh. He slapped her gently on the arse. “Come on wench. Let’s find you some clothes and then you’ll phone your colleague McCrae and get him to call off the dogs. I don’t care what you tell him, you have more to lose than me.”

Chapter 13

At last it was Wednesday and Tannum couldn’t decide who was more relieved. Isolation in this beautiful location, glorious summer days and long balmy evenings forced the manic switch in Tannum’s brain to find comfort in adolescent familiarity.

This outlaw biker fascinated her. Beneath the brusqueness, his intellect teased. The rare occasions he let her into his private world only intensified her curiosity. The more she knew, the more Tannum Friday needed to know.

It was dangerous emotional territory.

By the second night she’d moved from the couch to his bed. Not that it made any difference to the sex. The biker satisfied himself as he pleased and Tannum mentally slapped herself at the realisation she was encouraging the pleasure.

For five days Tannum complied with the demands of Robbie L, working hard to build trust with the man who literally held her life within his capable hands.

Today it was Wednesday and with an end in sight, two dark heads were bent together over the kitchen bench. His arm draped casually around her hips as they poured through the classifieds in the local newspaper, searching for Mac’s coded instructions.

Distracted fingers stroked her bare thigh, sliding under her shorts in a circular motion, towards her arse and back again. The intimate repetitive pattern stopped abruptly at her inner thigh, and he gently squeezed the muscle.

“Here.” He said, his hand leaving her warmth to point at the page. “We meet tomorrow.” Robbie immediately left her and headed to the bedroom. Moving the bed aside, he rolled back the floor rug in one corner.

Within the old pine floorboards, a trap door was latched and locked. Tannum helped the biker lift the heavy door revealing a weatherproof box set into the supporting joists, stacked neatly with all matter of firearms and knives.

Robbie L selected a sawn off shotgun, a semi automatic, ammo and the cleaning kit.

“Do you want some help?” she offered, as he spread the gear on the floor and began disassembling the hardware.

He considered her closely. “Would you let another clean and check your firearm Tannum?” It was the first time he’d used her name and after days of being called detective, wench or worse, pig, Tannum almost wanted to snatch the familiarity from his lips.

“Of course not! I prefer to do it myself.” She replied tartly. “Be in charge of my own destiny so to speak.”

“Well, what makes you think I need your help?” he responded coldly.

They both started at the sound of three distinct knocks on the front door. “Expecting someone?” he mouthed suspiciously. Tannum shook her head vigorously in denial. He watched the blood drain from her face at the second round of tapping and conceded.

Glancing at the unassembled weaponry around her, Tannum gestured a plan to Robbie, handing him her pistol as he exited soundlessly out the back door.

“Coming,” she yelled from deep within the house, closing the bedroom door and shutters from the main living area. In the recess beside the door, Tannum waited for the biker to get into position. In the silence she devised a plausible cover story.

Friendly banter erupted on the front deck, the detective opened the door.

“Mac! What the fuck are you doing here?”

Chapter 14

“We’ve been compromised.” The older man pushed passed her, striding into the cottage, checking through windows and pulling curtains shut. She caught him in the open living area at the back of the house. Robbie L was already there.

“What? How?” she demanded.

“Not sure. Probably the same person who took those photos of us I imagine.” Mac responded, looking at Tannum pointedly. “Hello Agent Friday. Nice to see you again.”

The detective blushed. She looked directly at Robbie L. “I thought that was you.” She squeaked.

The biker shrugged.

“Have you seen them too? The stills from the sex tape.” she asked incredulously.

“Yeah. I’ve seen them.” He answered truthfully.

“And you didn’t think to say something. We’ve been together for almost a week. Not one word.”

“What would be the point in saying something?” Robbie L snapped back irritably.

‘What?” Tannum paused. “So you thought she’s fair game, I’ll have a crack too.”

Mac watched her, jealousy bristling at the cozy familiarity between the couple.

“I thought it was you. I thought you took that video.” She repeated, totally engrossed in the biker. “Why else would I risk blowing my cover in the cops and jump on the back your fucking bike?”

Pushing frustrated hands through her unkempt hair, Tannum exploded.

“Again, it comes back to you Mac. This is your fault. My assignment fell apart the second you arrived.”

“Wait on there sunshine. Whilst we’re laying blame, do you want to talk to me about McCrae? You send in the whole fucking squad? I got out of that Sydney cafe by a bees dick.”

“I gave you warning … sunshine.” She glowered at Mac, transferring her embarrassed rage between the two men and their deception.

“How’s Kingsley?” Mac turned his attention to the biker he regarded as a brother.

“Who’s Kingsley?” Tannum squeaked.

“My girl.” Robbie responded affectionately with a rare smile.

“Your girl.” She said nodding as her nostrils flared at every pronounced word. “Right. Well, now you’ve both fucked me over literally and figuratively, I’ll take my chances, thanks.” She held out her hand into which Robbie placed the police issue glock.

Turning her back on Mackenzie Knight, she spoke directly to the biker. “This is why I always work alone.   I can’t trust any bastard not to screw with my mind or my body.”

Tannum turned on her heel and made it to the short hallway, before she heard a familiar click engage behind her. The detective stopped in her tracks.

“I wouldn’t go that way, little lady.” Mac warned.

“Why the hell not?” Tannum retorted but was not stupid enough to take another step.

“Because only a traitor would flee now.”

“Urggh!” Tannum yelled in frustration, clenching her fists beside her. Abruptly she turned on her heel, stopping at his outstretched hand. And eyeballed Mac.

Through gritted teeth she responded. “I didn’t orchestrate this. What would be the point of setting myself up?”

Robbie placed a hand on Mac’s outstretched arm, pushing it gently downwards. “Take it easy brother. The wench has done nothing here to compromise us. I can guarantee it.” He paused for effect. “I’m inclined to believe her.”

“I heard you took a beating.”

Mac said and faced his half brother. The apologetic concern of his words reflected in his eyes and the downward shape of his mouth.

Robbie shrugged. “That’s what happens when you protect a pig.”

“Wait, those bruises and cuts all over you … you took them for me?” Tannum’s eyes filled horror.

The biker looked at her and his tone hardened. “Not for you wench. I took the beating for my brother. And I’d do it again if he asked.”

Robbie stepped out of the emotional circle enveloping the three. “And I’d expect any one and all of my men to react the same at the suggestion we protect a fucking pig.”

Chapter 15

The phone buzzed in her pocket. She glanced at it and took the timely call, despite a warning look from Mac.

“Heads up. SPG deployed to a Byron Bay address.” Johnno stated.

“Thanks mate. You?” she asked.

“Laying low. Sorry I can’t give you more time boss. The Inspector’s keeping things tight.”

“I bet he is. I appreciate your letting me know.” she said.

“Another thing. Goodwood’s issued a warrant for your arrest.”

“Right. Thanks. Over and out.” Tannum slid the phone into her pocket slowly.

“We have to go.” She said to Mac. “SPG on their way. Where’s Robbie?”

“Right here.” The biker was dressed again in his colours and Tannum took a moment to absorb him, armed and with the President of Ares persona firmly in place.

“Inspector Goodwood.” She said in a matter of fact tone, squaring her shoulders. “Is the problem. He’s issued a warrant for my arrest. Now we’re all on even ground. Some arse hole’s ratted me out.” She glared at Mac pointedly.

Tannum strode around the men collecting her gear and shoving it in a shopping bag. Releasing the clip in her pistol, she checked the load.

The girl turned to Robbie. “You got a spare knife? Something that’s clean.”

He nodded and returned with a conspicuous blade, sheath and the webbing strap.

“Thanks.” She said strapping it around her calf, before deciding to shove it in the bottom of a beach bag.

“You right then?” she asked.  “Let’s move out. TAG has a safe house on the outskirts of Brisbane. You know the place Mac? We meet there in five days.”

She scribbled the map coordinates on a sheet of newspaper and handed it to Robbie L. “I’ll wait one more day and then I’m heading to Westlorn. By then I’ll have the fucker who betrayed us and Goodwood in tow.”

She handed the shopping bag to Mac. “Get rid of this in a clothing bin up the road.” With that she slipped through the French doors and disappeared along the beach track.

Chapter 16

Justice Walter entered the discreet Gentleman’s club off Oxford Street, Sydney at the appointed time.  As the door of the private treatment room closed quietly behind him, the attendant turned to face him.

“You wouldn’t be thinking of setting me up Sir?” Tannum spoke, revealing herself.

“Tannum! Thank God. With all this heat from Goodwood, I’ve been worried sick. I know you can take care of yourself. I know that. But I promised your father I’d look out for you.”

Walter pulled his goddaughter into a bear hug. “Let me look at you child.” He said holding her at arms length and looking her up and down twenty times to check.

Tannum relaxed in his care. “I need your help.” She stated immediately.

The old man released her. “Anything.”

“I need my standing in the cops restored. I’m no use to TAG outside the organised crime unit. Being shut out seals my death warrant.” Tannum shook her head regretfully. “I made a mistake, a huge mistake.”

“I know about Ares. What happened there?” Walter asked kindly, patting a spot for her beside him on the treatment bed.

“I thought Robbie L was setting me up with Mac.”

“Well there’s your answer child.” He said.

“Oh?”

“You need to bring in Robbie L. Bring Ares to their knees.”

“No! No way. On what grounds?” she asked.

“Kidnapping a police officer makes a good start.”

“But I went voluntarily.”

Walter quietly assessed her responses. She’d formed a mental pact with Ares, in the very least with its leader. “You’ve just spent the best part of a week with the guy. I’d be surprised if you didn’t pick his brain on something interesting for the unit.”

“I did and I have.” She sighed. Rats in a sealed drum. Goodwood had them.

“Tannum, you have to choose a side.” Walter prodded.

“Sometimes it’s not that simple. I have to build relationships with these guys. They need to know they can trust me. I can’t go ratting on Robbie L the first chance I get. Mac is already suspicious. What I need to do is find the person who took the sex video.”

“You’re sure it wasn’t Mac?”

“Absolutely I’m sure.” Tannum paused. “Mac’s been working with RETO. And he’s sticking close to Robbie. Maybe I’m not the intended target. Is your spare key to the flat in the usual spot? Mind if I use the shower and a little data?”

“Be my guest. I’m in chambers until 6pm. Stay as long as you want.”

Chapter 17

“Word on the street is that Mackenzie Knight’s after you. And he’s bringing Robbie L.”

“Fuck! How the hell did you get in?” Thomas Goodwood stepped back as he entered the small, darkened unit. He flicked the lights. “You cut the power?”

“You have an interesting history with that pair. And another. God rest her beautiful soul.” Tannum continued, ignoring him. “It must be getting harder to keep that part of your life a secret now that your brother is rising the ranks.”

“You can’t talk. I have evidence.” He retorted.

“Evidence? You’re a fucking little pervert looking for cheap thrills. Every bedroom in that establishment was wired with a secret camera, installed by you when you ahh? What does it say here on this document? ‘Performed a fire safety check on behalf of your insurance company’. I made a questionable moral judgement. I had sex with a stranger after an intense day at work. Ooooh. Naughty, naughty Tannum.”

Tannum wanted to punch the fucker.

“You see Mr. Goodwood, I have your signature right here on the work sheet.” She held up the photocopy in the dark.

“Mr. Goodwood. What disappointment you must feel. Your brother a commissioned officer, well respected in his field. You were a policeman once yourself, weren’t you, in Queensland?”

“Yes.” Thomas responded. “But it has fuck all to do with you.”

“Such a promising career.” Tannum continued. “Then there was that unfortunate incident with Meadow Lark and her accidental death at Westlorn. To make matters worse, you were mentioned in the Royal Commission Against Corruption. That’s three strikes Mr. Goodwood. The Queensland Police were very understanding, but somehow, you were always overlooked at the next promotion. So much potential gone to waste.”

“And then we have the business of Clive Norton. More bad luck. Is that why you killed him, Thomas? Clive wanted more money to stay silent. I mean Clive saw your brother’s star rising; it’s all over the media what Inspector Gordon Goodwood is doing to clean up organised crime in NSW. He’d be on a pretty good wicket with the promotions, so poor Mr. Norton thought he should ask for money more too. It seemed the only right thing to do.”

“You don’t know anything.” Thomas Goodwood sneered.

“Oh, but I think I do.” Tannum clicked her tongue. “You see Clive was not as stupid as you thought. Though, he was a man of simple tastes, I’ll grant you that.   Upon the death certificate being issued, specific instructions were carried out. All his books, a library of some five hundred books, were to be taken to the Salvation Army for distribution. Imagine that Mr. Goodwood, a personal library of five hundred books! Interestingly, one book from the collection, specifically, A Complete History of Queensland Rural Holdings, was to be hand delivered to a nominated address.”

She paused. “Can you guess where that would have been Mr. Goodwood.”

He shook his head in denial and mumbled “Westlorn.”

“You see! Now we have progress.” She clapped her hands together. “Tell me what do you think was in the book?” Tannum jiggled like a child needing to pee.

“A statement?”

“Bravo, Mr. Goodwood.”

“That means nothing. He could’ve made everything up.”

“Yes, he could have. But the statement was dated 2010 and I’m sure our forensics team will be able to verify the authenticity of the document and that of the journal detailing every payment, the time, date and amount in chronological order. And when we cross reference that information with certain bank accounts… Did I mention our forensic accountants just live for deciphering money trails? Mr. Goodwood …” Tannum let her voice trail away.

Thomas relented. “You don’t understand. I only went to reason with him but he started yelling, he shoved me and I shoved him. He hit his head on the ground.”

“And you didn’t think to call an ambulance?”

He shrugged.

“I have just one more thing, Mr. Goodwood.”

“Read me my rights?”

Tannum scoffed. “We’ll get there soon enough. There is the little matter of trying to discredit the integrity of a sworn police officer for personal gain. Some might even call it blackmail. Where is the video of me and where is Clive Norton’s phone?”

“Here, in my backpack.”

He dug into his backpack and placed the items on the table.

“Thank you Mr. Goodwood. I appreciate your co-operation. Is this the only copy?”

He nodded.

“Are we done here Johnno?”

“Yep.” His answer echoed around the room from Tannum’s mobile phone. “Want to send the bull wagon around for Mr. Goodwood?”

“On it boss.”

Thomas Goodwood bowed his head defeated.

“Sure wish those lights would come back on. I wonder….” Tannum checked the unit’s power box. “Oh, here is the problem, Mr. Goodwood. Something must have tripped your safety pack. And all this time I thought you forgot to pay your electricity bill.”

“Thomas Edward Goodwood, you have the right to remain silent….”

Chapter 18

The surf rolled in restless and Tannum taking her chances at the late hour, stripped and ducked under the wave. Swimming strongly past the shore break she body surfed to shore, before turning to do again.

The exhilaration propelled her forward, and after another couple of rounds, Tannum plopped herself on the cotton beach towel. To the moonlight she smiled, naked except for knickers. It was good to be free – and right. The satisfaction made her laugh and she rolled onto her stomach to sleep under the starry blanket.

“The first time, I get it … you left in a rush. What’s your excuse this time young lady?” the voice said referring to her lack of attire.

“Robbie,” she breathed softly, smiling into her folded arms as he plopped on the sand beside her.

“Well detective. I’m waiting and I’m not a patient man.” His tone mocked her in good humour.

Tannum turned her head sideways to face him, cradling on folded elbows. “Well, Mr. President. Perhaps I like to tease.”

The biker chuckled loudly, settling into the game. “Well then. Tease me Detective Friday.”

“Uh ahh.” Tannum responded, playfully waggling her finger at him. “There’s no enticement with a quick reveal.”

“I’m not afraid of you.” Tannum said defiantly, her eyes meeting his. “Not anymore. Not since Westlorn.” She paused briefly, then, wanting to clear the air between them added,

“Anyways, about that. I made a mistake. I thought our guy was Inspector Goodwood. After a little digging, I knew I had the wrong brother. Thomas Goodwood became very interesting to me after Clive Norton disappeared off the radar in 2010, right after the Westlorn massacre.

I said to myself, why would a dedicated member of Ares leave the club at such a crucial time? And where did he go? All roads eventually led to our friend Thomas. When you and Mac turned up on the scene, I knew it was personal and I was on the right track.

I just needed more proof. That video muddled everything. I lost focus.”

She paused thinking about how closely she’d come to blowing her clandestine life apart. Literally.

“I would like to know one thing,” she hesitated. “You know, just to get it right in my head. Why did you give Clive’s documents to me? You and Mac could have sorted out Goodwood on your own.”

“The very reason you didn’t rat me out to your buddies.” The biker replied simply, laying on the sand beside her, quietly listening to her sexy voice and watching the stars.

Tannum smiled.

“You could have told me Kingsley was your niece.” The detective pouted.

“And spoil all the fun?” he teased gruffly.

Tannum smiled again. “Where is Mac anyway? I haven’t heard from him since we left Westlorn.”

“Sulking I presume.”

“Sulking? Why? We had a great result.”

“I think it has something to do with you and me.” He said cautiously.

“Ohh.” She smiled again and rolled to her side facing the biker.

“This is going to be messy.” She warned.

Robbie shrugged.

“I like messy.” She added, holding her breath.

“And I’m ready to be teased. You talk too much. And as I said detective, I’m a very impatient man.” With that the biker pulled her under him and filled her mouth with his.