Six months after being shot by her lover, and prime suspect in the Case of the Missing Monet, Portland police detective Aimee Belanger returns to the force. Assigned to the Vice squad, Amiee's first case takes her undercover in local crime boss Pearce Bedford's organization, where she soon comes face to face with an old 'friend' from her days with the New York City Police Department... who also just happens to be the wife of the man she is investigating. Amiee and Kathryn quickly become 'involved', picking up where they had left off.
Things quickly go pear-shaped however, when Kathryn turns up dead and all signs point to Aimee as the 'trigger'. Aimee finds herself on the run as she flees to New York, in search of the real killer.
04:39 P.M. - 2 April – Airport Sheraton, Portland
“Police! Nobody move!”
The crash of the door against the hotel room wall and the shouted command come in almost the same instant… in the space of a single heart beat. With no more warning than the men in blue gave, I shove the woman’s face from the ‘v’ of my naked thighs and roll off the edge of the over-sized queen bed in one practiced motion, scrambling for my badge and identification, buried somewhere in the small pile of clothes beside the bed. The woman lets out a piercing shriek at the sudden intrusion and grabs for a sheet to cover her own nudity. I grab my badge and turn around, holding it up to the uniforms.
“Don’t shoot… don’t shoot… I’m a cop… I’m a cop…!”
“Hands up… now… now… now, godammit!” I comply.
The air fairly reeks of testosterone as half a dozen of Portland’s finest swarm in to the room, dragging the sheets off of the bed and searching the piles of clothes for weapons, which they find… my department issue 9mm Sig Sauer P226… in its shoulder holster, under the edge of the bed.
Just then, two more policemen enter the room… plainclothes officers. I can only stare helplessly up at my former colleagues from Burglary… Dawson and Gibbs. Swearing silently, under my breath… fuck… fuck… fuck… fuck… fuck!
“Well… well… well… look what we have here, Gibbs… our favorite little carpet-muncher! I almost didn’t recognize you without your clothes, Belangér.” Dawson stares for a moment and then turns, smirking, to Gibbs.
“Better go find the crime scene photographer, Tom… gotta preserve the scene.”
“Fuck you, Dawson!” I get up from the floor and then turn my back to the pair, stooping to pick up my clothes. Turning back to face the detectives, I slowly and deliberately begin to dress, as if I could care less that they have seen me naked. One of the uniforms hands Kathryn a sheet to cover herself. Showing considerable calm under the circumstances, she gathers her clothes and then heads to the bathroom to dress, locking the door behind her.
Dawson looks around the room for a moment and then motions me over to a small table in the corner. Gibbs makes to follow the two of us but Dawson shakes his head. Gibbs turns to the lieutenant in charge of the assault team and the other officers begin clearing out of the room. Kathryn is still in the bathroom. The thought enters my mind that all my work of these last few weeks just got flushed down the toilet and I’m back to square one… worse than square one; my cover is blown! As far as Kathryn was concerned, I was the daughter of a ‘card-carrying’ member of the East Coast mob, sent out to the West Coast for my own protection. Kathryn and I shared some ‘history’.
“Aimée, what the hell is going on here? You know the department is investigating Pearce Bedford. What in the hell are you doing with his wife?”
“What’d it look like I was doing? God... you really are dense?”
“You realize you have completely compromised our investigation.”
“I’ve compromised your investigation? Are you serious? What the fuck are you… … this is my investigation and you just blew my cover!”
Just then, the head of Burglary Division – Captain Sam Benson, my old boss – walks in the room. What the hell? He spots Dawson and me in the corner and heads our way.
“Sam?” I can get away with calling the captain by his first name; we spent three years in the trenches together. “What is Burglary doing in the middle of my Vice investigation?” But before Sam can answer, another brass joins the fray – Deputy Chief Fritz Edwards. If there is a less popular man in the entire Portland Police Bureau, I haven’t met him. On top of everything else, Edwards is a narrow-minded, strait-laced asshole… translated – he hates gays and lesbians, but is very careful not to do anything actionable in front of witnesses. Perfect! My day just went from bad to worse! Fuck!
“Detective Belangér, if you actually spent some time in your squad and read the memos, you would know that your case has been re-assigned to Burglary.”
“May I ask why, sir?” Considering that I have just been caught in flagrante delicto with the wife of the target of my own investigation; me questioning the deputy chief’s motives is pretty ballsy, I’ll admit. Right now, I may not be thinking quite as clearly as I should be. The scent of Kathryn’s sex on my face isn’t helping matters either.
“My team has been making progress and…” Seething beneath the surface, I try to keep my emotions in check as the chief cuts me off with a chopping motion of his right hand.
“This is not the time or place to discuss your unit’s shortcomings, detective!” Looking around the room… “Get your things and report to my office in one hour!” He turns and strides from the room before I can reply. I feel my face flush at his sharp rebuke and as I watch him leave the room, my dark, liquid eyes burn with unconcealed anger, boring holes in the back of his handmade Italian suit. Sanctimonious asshole!
As pissed as I am now, I know better than to keep the bureau’s ‘little Hitler’ waiting. The last time someone made the mistake of keeping the deputy chief waiting, he ended up on parking patrol for a week – in the middle of the worst snowstorm this city has seen in a decade. Considering how Chief Edwards feels about lesbians, and me in particular, I’d probably spend the next month doing cavity searches on all the ‘working girls’ busted in the department’s recently reinstated prostitute sweeps. The absolute last thing on earth that I want to do is to be shoving my fingers up some skank’s swampy snatch, checking to make sure they’re not trying to smuggle in a cell phone or drugs.
And so it is that I find myself outside the deputy chief’s fifteenth floor office exactly, according to my Corum chronograph, 27 minutes and 12 seconds later. I may have given a few pedestrians a heart attack as I navigated my ‘lights and sound-equipped’ onyx black Mustang through the city streets… the roar of its five-liter tuned V-8 echoing off the brick and concrete edifices that make up downtown Portland.
The aide stationed outside Edward’s office announces my arrival and I settle back in one of the black leather Ethan Allen over-stuffed chairs… and wait.
Becoming quickly bored with the magazine selection on the polished table between the two chairs – Golf Digest and Aviation Northwest – my mind goes back to that day four weeks ago, when I first met Kathryn…
– Portland Police Bureau
Six weeks after I had been shot by my lover – it was an accident; she had been aiming for my boss - who had been trying to frame my ex-lover; who just happened to be the newly appointed chief of detectives, of a string of burglaries – I returned to duty and the first step toward putting my life back together… again.
My on again/off again girlfriend was in jail awaiting trial on charges of burglary, grand theft, attempted murder and a few other charges. Being an assistant district attorney had not worked in her favor and the presiding judge remanded her without bail because of her position and ‘assumed connections with undesirable elements’… a polite way of saying she knew criminals and was apparently considered a flight risk. Cassie refused to see me and short of over-powering the guards at the Multnomah County jail, it didn’t look like I am going to see her before the trial.
As for my ex-lover, Julia resigned from the bureau and left Portland in the aftermath of the shooting, my declaration of love for her and Cassie’s subsequent arrest and incarceration. I have no idea where Julia is and if I am smart, I will let her go… again. Do you really want to get burned again, Aimée?
With the string of burglaries now solved, I requested and was granted, a transfer to Vice. My first assignment was a Pacific Northwest industrialist who was running a chain of underground ‘casinos’, complete with prostitutes and drugs. The authorities had been trying to get something on him for years, but he was too well-insulated and almost fanatical about letting anyone in who hadn’t been vetted a dozen ways from Sunday. There was no way we were going to get someone undercover in; I could see this after studying the case files over a long weekend. Just when I was thinking that I had been handed the loser of all loser cases, something caught my eye.
The target of our investigation, industrialist Pearce Bedford, was married to a woman who used to frequent a very specialized ‘club’ in Manhattan. This ‘club’ was in fact a bordello catering exclusively to the elite of Manhattan society, specifically the closeted females of Manhattan society. I had ‘met’ Kathryn… she went by the name Nancy Plato back then… while on an undercover assignment with the NYPD, my home before coming to Portland, Oregon three years ago.
I had gotten in as a masseuse, hoping to gain access to records that according to an inside informant, were kept on the premises and disguised as lesbian porn DVDs. Two weeks later, the DVDs had not materialized and my bosses pulled me out, but not before I had met, up close and personal, several well-heeled clients. Nancy was one of those clients. Nancy liked young women and upon learning that my father was a part of New Jersey ‘society’ – aka, the Mob - we had struck up a friendship. Nancy liked dangerous women. I had been a little sorry when the assignment had ended.
I was up until dawn formulating a plan to present to my captain. After years of trying to infiltrate Bedford’s inner circle, I had found an ‘in’. From the case file we knew that whatever his wife desired, Pearce Bedford got for her… whatever she wanted. I had a calling card right into Kathryn’s bed… my days back at that Manhattan bordello. This was almost too good to be true.
As I sat at the marble kitchen island counter of my fifth floor condo at CYAN/PDX, working on a second pot of Ethiopia Sidamo, I realized that I was going to need a crash course in computer hacking from my favorite ‘techie’ at PPB. Ryan, a former hacker of international repute, had turned his computer prowess over to the forces of good several years ago and had found a home with the Portland Police Bureau. Since there was no way in the world I was putting Ryan within five miles of the Bedford compound, he would have to impart some of his skills to me.