Disclaimers ~ This is an original work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, places or events is purely coincidental. These characters belong to me, if they have a passing resemblance to you or share your name, it's purely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.

Bad language ~ A fair bit.

Disclaimers ~ This is an original work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, places or events is purely coincidental. These characters belong to me, if they have a passing resemblance to you or share your name, it's purely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.

Bad language ~ A fair bit.

Love/sex ~ Romance between men and women and between women. Sex between consenting couples.

Sickness & death ~ There are some deaths in this story. If that's not for you, I hope you enjoy reading something else.

Author's note ~ Questions, comments & thoughts all welcome. Loves_to_write_fic@yahoo.co.uk

© June, 2006 Cam Taylor


Chapter Twelve


Tuesday, 29th December

Chris looked up towards the hidden camera as she approached the office front doors, knowing she was being watched. She walked into the building and headed for Madelyn Anders' desk.

The Colonel's oldest daughter, at the age of twenty-four, sported shoulder-length red hair and clear green eyes. Being so beautiful, she had a lot of admirers, but had so far never shown an interest in any of them. It was rumoured among the other investigators that James planned on bringing Madelyn into the fold in the near future, with the hope that she would one day take over from him. Chris personally hoped this was true. Madelyn was, like the rest of her family, smart and determined to succeed. For this reason, Chris was looking forward to the future and it didn't hurt that she got along with Madelyn.

"Hey, Maddie. How are you this morning?" Chris asked with a bright smile.

The redhead scowled at the investigator. "You know I hate that, Branagon!" she growled.

Chris chuckled. "Sorry."

"No you're not."

Chris shrugged. "Seriously though, how are you? How was your Christmas?"

"I'm fine, thank you, Chris. Christmas was a big old family affair, as usual. How are you? I heard that dad made you take time off."

"Yep. Can't say I was happy about it, but there you go." Madelyn nodded in understanding. "Heard there's a new guy. That was quick, wasn't it?"

"He was lined up to start in the New Year, but with... you know... dad decided to bring him in sooner."

"Any info on him?"

Madelyn smiled sweetly. "You'll just have to find out yourself."

"Is that because I called you Maddie, Maddie?" Chris smirked, getting the receptionist to scowl again. "Got a new code for me?"

Madelyn unlocked a drawer and removed an envelope. "Changes again on the first of January."

Chris thanked her and ripped open the envelope as she walked away from the desk. At the opaque door, she entered her number into the key pad and walked through, making her way over to the elevator to wait for it.

"Chris, glad to see you're all right," Tania greeted her, as she stepped off the elevator.

"Hey, Tania. Where's the boss?"

"In his office with a very gorgeous new investigator. Hands off! I saw him first!"

"In love already?" the blonde joked.

"Yes. I've already got our children's names picked out."

Chris laughed and leaned on the woman's desk. "So, what can you tell me about him?"

"Well," the raven-haired woman adjusted her position behind her desk, getting comfortable. "He grew up in London, though his family is originally from Ireland. He had four siblings, one died. And he is a twin."

Chris laughed and shook her head. "I meant interesting stuff," she said over her shoulder, as she walked away.

James' office was cut off from the investigators' open-plan work space by soundproof glass. He could sit and watch what they were doing, with the advantage of not having to listen to their banter. Opposite his office was a large room that always remained locked. Inside they had stored all the details of their many clients; incriminating files that, if need be, could be used to extract a favour or two. The investigators' files were also stored in there. The only person with a key was James.

Chris strolled past the abandoned desks of her colleagues, frowning as she saw that Harrison's desk had been cleared and the new guy's stuff put in place. She turned her gaze to James' office, studying the back of a man she presumed was Patrick.

James spotted her approaching and waved her in. "Patrick O'Shea, this is Chris Branagon. Chris, this is Patrick," he introduced, gesturing between the two.

The man stood from his seat and was a good few inches taller than Chris' five-foot-seven. His dark brown hair was shaved close to his head, his eyes were a pale blue, maybe grey, and lit up as he looked Chris over. He flashed his straight white teeth at her and held out a hand.

"Bloody hell! Are they fake?" Chris mocked.

Patrick's smile slipped. "Uhm... no. I uhh... have them whitened."

Chris turned back to James without shaking the offered hand. "Why's he here? I would have thought he would be working the day shift?"

James sighed, knowing his best investigator was being difficult for a reason. "He is. I asked Patrick to come in so that he could meet you."

Chris looked back at the newcomer. "How old are you?"

Patrick blinked. "Twenty-six."

"When's your birthday?"

"It was yesterday. The 28th." He swallowed nervously, beginning to wonder if taking this job had been such a smart move. None of the investigators had been particularly nice towards him.

"Where do you come from?"



"Chris, stop interrogating him," James interrupted, biting back his smile. "Patrick, you can go on to Doctor Levens' office now."

Patrick gave Chris a charming smile. "It was nice meeting you, Chris." He shook James' hand before walking out.

Chris and James watched through the glass as Patrick made his way towards the elevator. "Why have you hired someone new so soon?" Chris asked, as she turned her attention back to her boss.

"He was already lined up to start. I was going to have him start in January, but with the loss of Harrison..."

That's what Madelyn said. "We need all the help we can get," Chris completed the unfinished sentence. James nodded. "Who gave him Harrison's desk?"

"Chris!" James sighed. "Harry's gone, the desk was free."

Chris knew she was pushing James' patience and sensibly backed off. She took off her winter coat, draping it over the back of the chair opposite James' desk. "I spoke to Janet yesterday," she informed her boss, as she sat down. "She said the guy's gone back to sending mail and that you think it's his way of laying low."

"That's right." James frowned. Chris spoke to Janet? I thought Chris wasn't seeing or speaking to anyone? At least that's what Laurie told me. His mouth opened as he thought to say something, then closed. Don't say anything. Let it be. He shook his head and reached into an open drawer on his right. "This is the only one I can show you. Graham's still testing the rest." He handed over the letter.

"Nothing on this one?" Chris asked.

James shook his head. "Graham mentioned our guy perhaps wears gloves. I don't hold out much hope of finding anything on the others."

Chris read the letter out aloud. "My love, you've got all those investigators at your house. Why? This is another test, isn't it?" She looked over the top of the letter to James. "So he knows who we are," she stated.

"Well, he has been to Kate's house a couple of times now."

"Yeah, but he's specifically said those investigators. It's not advertised what we do, you even have a false name on the door."

James blinked and looked at the blonde thoughtfully. "You're right. It never crossed my mind to question how he knew."

Chris continued reading the letter. "I guess you know best and I shouldn't question you, but... I thought after I passed that last test, maybe I deserved to meet you for dinner or something. Did I fail the test? The heart wasn't enough to prove my love? Did you want more? You realised that I was a coward and offered you a pig's heart. That's it, isn't it, my love? I'm so stupid! You're a doctor. Of course you would have realised it wasn't human. Killing that male investigator, who sat constantly in the car near your house, was a good thing, wasn't it? You've brought them in as part of my next test, you want to see how far I'll go to prove me love. For us to be together, I'll kill them all for you. My love eternally, X." Chris frowned down at the letter. "This X signature, is it his initial or..." she asked.

"We don't know," James confessed.

"He thinks she's setting tests for him to complete." James nodded. "Maybe we could set up a trap," Chris suggested.


She shrugged. "There has to be a way. How else would he expect her to meet him? He has to be watching her; at least the house. How else would he know that Harrison had been sitting out there constantly?"

"We know he's been to the house three times, at least." James took out a cigar from a wooden box sitting on his desk. Clipping the end, he placed it in his mouth and began chewing on it, not lighting up, as he knew Chris hated cigars. "It's an idea, Chris. But we'll have to wait until we have a sure way of getting a message to him." Chris nodded and set the letter down on the desk. "Lately, I've had the night shift remaining indoors," James told her. "One in the kitchen, one upstairs and on in the living room."

"How long is Laurie going to be on night duty?" Chris asked worriedly. Their guy had so far only attacked at night and she didn't like the idea of her best friend being on the night shift.

"Once Patrick has learnt the ropes, I'll switch him to night duty to gain some experience. Maybe Jackson..." Chris screwed up her face in distaste. "I know you don't like him. I can't help that. Anyway, we'll see. That's everything. Go home and get some rest. You start back tonight."

* * * * *

Chris pulled into Kate Levens' driveway at 5.40. Joey and Patrick stood outside close together in conversation, both sets of eyes watching her park. As she climbed out of the BMW, Joey wrapped his arms around her in a tight embrace, welcoming her back.

"Wow! Joey told me about your car. It's a beaut!" Patrick exclaimed, studying her car closely.

"Thanks, Patrick," Chris responded, pulling away from Joey. "How are you finding things here?"

"Okay. Nothing much has happened yet." Remembering what they had been through, he blushed. "Uhh... sorry, I..." he shook his head. "Sorry."

Chris turned her attention to Joey. "Are Laurie and Charley here?"

"Yeah," the raven-haired man answered. "They got here early." He glanced down at the plastic bag she held. "Whatcha got there?"

"Nothing for you, big guy. How's Vincenzo? Did he have a good Christmas?"

Joey rolled his eyes. "He got so many gifts! Poor Angela almost had a heart attack as she fretted over where they would all go!"

"Ahh, bless. By the way, I've got a gift for him. I'll bring it with me tomorrow and you can give it to him the next time you see him." She said goodbye to both men and walked into the house, finding Kate seated in the living room.

"Hello, Chris," Kate greeted warmly. "Back with me, I see."

"Thank you for the Christmas present, Doctor Levens."

"You're welcome."

After calming down from her argument with Janet, she had sat down and opened the present from the doctor. Inside she had found a smiley-face key ring.

"You have a lovely smile. I thought it would remind you to do so more often," the doctor told her.

Chris held out the plastic bag for Kate. "It's not much," she said shyly. She had gone out that afternoon and brought the doctor a fancy box of chocolates and a bottle of wine to add to her collection.

"Thank you, Chris. You didn't have to."

"I wanted to."

Charley and Laurie walked in together. "Hey, alive and well?" Laurie asked, as she walked over to hug her friend.

"Yeah. Sorry for not calling," Chris apologised sheepishly.

"I told Laurie that ye usually occupy the living room, so we thought we would leave ye there," Charley told her.

Chris nodded. "Okay."

"I'll be upstairs and Charley will be in the kitchen," Laurie informed her.

The day shift, consisting of Patrick and Joey, left. Kate went upstairs to her office and Charley, after hugging Chris tightly, retreated to the kitchen. Laurie sat down on the sofa and watched Chris closely, as she contemplated bringing up a sensitive subject. "Janet has been really worried about you," she said softly.

"Yeah, she told me."

"She told you?" Laurie asked in confusion.

"Yeah. She turned up on my doorstep yesterday."

"Oh, really." Go, Janet. Go, Janet. Go...

"Yeah. We had an argument," Chris finished.

"Oh, Chris!" Laurie sighed in disappointment. "What did you argue about?"

"Shouldn't you go and check upstairs?" Chris asked, annoyed with the conversation and trying to dodge answering the question.

Laurie nodded reluctantly and stood up. "If you want to talk... about anything... you know I'm always around." She walked out of the room without getting a response from Chris.

A few minutes later Kate walked into the living room and sat down on the sofa. She switched on her television, situated in one of the corners of the room. "I'm not bothering you, am I, Chris? It's just that there's this program I want to see."

"It's your home, Doctor Levens. You carry on as you normally would."

She's reverted to calling me Doctor Levens, Kate noted sadly. "What did you do during your time off? Anything fun?"

Chris turned to look at the attractive, middle-aged doctor. It was obvious where Janet got her good looks. "I spent most of my time drunk," she answered honestly.

"Oh." Kate wasn't sure what to say to that.

"How's the building work coming along on your clinic?"

Kate smiled. "Very well. I believe we're on schedule. I've done everything I can with the designs, now it's up to the builders."

"Have they given you any idea when it'll be finished?"

"At first I was told April. I think it's now going to be more likely in June. I should really start looking to hire extra staff, but I'm putting it off until... this little situation is... dealt with." Chris nodded and turned her attention back to the bay window and dark front garden ahead of her. "Why did you get into this business, Chris?" Kate pried. "Is it something you wanted to do when you were younger?"

The blonde smiled and glanced back at the doctor. "I wanted to be a vet," she said, turning around to face Kate. "But when I found out I would have to put some animals to sleep, I changed my mind." Kate smiled. "What about you?" Chris asked, diverting the conversation from herself. "Did you always want to be a doctor?"

"Yes," the auburn-haired woman nodded. "I used to imagine being a surgeon. But, I ended up getting married, so changed my plans and became a small-town doctor, with my own practice." They smiled at each other.

"Janet told me she was going to go to Harvard," Chris said, attempting to keep Kate talking.

"Yes. She went to college locally, then one day... just... gave it up." Kate shook her head. "I think something happened to change her mind. She's so smart, she would've passed with flying colours, I'm sure. She won't talk about it though."

"Maybe she'll go back to it one day."

"I hope so. I'd like her to run my practice one day."

They fell silent as the programme Kate wanted to see came on. Chris turned back around to resume her watch on the front garden, blue eyes moving this way and that as she searched for anything that shouldn't be out there. A flash of light made her frown. Did I just see that? She peered harder, straining to see through the darkness in the direction she thought she had seen something, searching for the flash of light again. There! Jesus, there's someone out there!

* * * * *

Judge stood hidden in the darkness, Franklin fidgeting beside him. The night air was breezy, a biting chill to it. It was almost silent out, except for a slight wheezing coming from Franklin.

"Why are we here, Judge?" the small man whispered nervously.

"You know why." Judge scanned the surrounding area, happy that all the other houses were in darkness and no one was wandering about. He smiled. Those stupid investigators won't know what hit them. One down... "All right, Franklin. We're good to go," he nodded at his accomplice.

Franklin nodded once, then stepped away from their hiding place, a can of petrol in hand. Walking as stealthily as he could, he made his way up to the front door. He poured half the can of petrol over the wooden front door, bottom to top, then quickly made his way around the house to the back, doing the same to the back door that he had done to the front. Making sure he was alone, he set the back door alight, before quickly making his way back to the front door and lighting that as well. He rushed back to where Judge was waiting.

"It's done?"

"Yes, Judge. I did exactly what you said to do." They waited, watching the front door light up as the flames grew stronger.

This should be good! Judge smiled.

* * * * *

Chris turned around and looked at Kate, worry etched on her face. "Doctor Levens, can you go upstairs for me?"

"What? Why? What's wrong?" Kate asked, bewildered.

"I'll tell you later," Chris said, all business now that there was a threat. "Find Laurie and stay with her." Kate stood up, frowning, but doing what the investigator asked. "Charley," Chris called out.


"Come here. Quick."

Charley walked through from the kitchen. "What's up, babe?"

Ugh, I hate it when he calls me babe! "There's someone in the front garden."

Charley frowned and walked over to the window, stopping next to Chris. "Shit, what was that?" he asked, spotting a flash of light.

"I think it's a torch. He flicks it on to check the path, then turns it off again. Come on."

They quickly left the living room together, nodding to each other as Charley eased the front door open. Moving out into the dark, they stuck close together, each with stun guns and pepper spray out, adrenalin in full flow. Charley indicated over to the right. Chris nodded and moved off. They kept moving, slow and quiet, each keeping tabs on the other.

Charley suddenly ran into the trees. "DON'T MOVE! HANDS AWAY FROM YOUR BODY! DO NOT MOVE!" he shouted.

* * * * *

As the silence of the night was disturbed by the piercing scream of a siren, Judge knew that someone had spotted the blazing flames or smoke. He stepped further back into the darkness as neighbours began appearing. I wonder if someone spotted Franklin? He scanned the growing crowd for anyone looking around in search of them. No one seems to be looking in our direction. He was pulled out of his thoughts by someone yelling. His smile returned as he watched the one called Joey appear in an upstairs window.

"I'M TRAPPED!" the dark-haired man shouted.

"WHAT ABOUT THE BACK DOOR?" one of the neighbours yelled back.




Judge watched as two men ran away from the house. He smirked and turned his attention back to the helpless Joey. What will you do? He scowled as he heard the approaching siren of at least two fire engines. Damn it to hell! He spotted the two neighbours come running back just as the fire trucks pulled to a stop in front of Joey's burning home.

The fire fighters quickly split into groups, some hurrying to get water on to the flames, while others quickly set about raising their ladder for Joey.

Judge snarled as he watched the investigator climb safely down the metal rungs. For Christ's sake! He growled loudly in anger, the need to do damage to something or someone rising quickly within him. Look at him! Not even a damn scratch on him! Judge decided to slip away before he lost complete control of his temper. The last thing he wanted was to be captured now.

* * * * *

Chris ran for the trees, eyes darting about as she searched for Charley and the perp. "Charley?" she called out worriedly.

"I'm here, babe."

She followed his voice, her stun gun held out in front of her. Approaching the two men, she directed her weapon at the man down on his knees with his hands in the air.

"Don't shoot me, please. I'm sorry," the man begged, eyes frantic as he looked from the glaring, big-built man, to the scowling blonde-haired woman.

"Get up. Slowly," Charley said calmly.

The man stood up. "I'm sorry. I just wanted a couple of pictures. My boss is getting mad 'cause I never get a good shot of Doctor Levens."

Chris and Charley looked at each other, both with an eyebrow raised in question. "Your boss?" Chris asked.

"Yeah, I... I work for the paper. The Honeyport Tribune. We've been running a story on Doctor Levens. But she's uhh... she's camera-shy, so I haven't been able to get a good shot."

"So you thought the best thing to do would be to trespass on her property?" Chris growled, pissed off that this wasn't their guy.

"I know it was dumb, but I was desperate."

"You could have scared the shit out of her, you arsehole!" Charley put in.

"I know. It was dumb. So, uhh... who are you two anyway?" the man asked, wondering if he could get a new story for the paper.

"Security." Charley put his stun gun away and grabbed the man's arm. "I'll get rid of him."

Chris nodded and followed them out of the trees. Charley headed for the gate, while Chris walked back to the house.

"What's going on? Who's out there?" Kate demanded, as Chris walked into the living room.

"A photographer from the Tribune. He wanted a photo of you."

"Curly black hair, whining voice, camera around his neck?" Laurie asked, watching Chris nod. "Jeez, he doesn't give up! I got rid of him three times from the clinic!"

"Charley's taking care of him now. He won't be back."

* * * * *

Joey stood wrapped in a blanket, watching as the local fire service battled to put out the flames consuming his home. Jesus! Thank God I didn't have Vincenzo staying over!

"Here you go, Joey."

The investigator looked at his neighbour, as the man stopped beside him. He looked down at the phone the man was holding out for him. "Thanks, Terry." He rang the Colonel, despite the hour. "Hey, boss. Sorry to wake you."

" What is it, Joey? What's happened? " James asked groggily.

"The bastard set my house on fire."

" You're kidding! I'll call the others. We'll be there soon. "

* * * * *

An hour later, the investigators, along with Kate and James, were standing on Joey's street, waiting to talk to the fire chief. The flames were out now, the fire fighters just checking the house out to make sure everything was safe.

"Talk us through it, Joey," James suggested.

"I was asleep when one of my neighbours rang and told me the front of the house was on fire and that I should get out. I ran downstairs and found both the front and back door in flames. So I ran back upstairs." Joey paused and took a trembling breath. "I was all set to jump out of the window, but then the fire crew turned up." He lifted a trembling hand to his face.

"Why do you assume it was our guy?" Laurie asked.

Joey shrugged. "Who else would take it upon themselves to burn my home to the ground?"

"Laurie has a point," Chris said. "How would he find out where you live?"

"It's not exactly a well kept secret, Chris!" Joey replied in annoyance. "He knows who we are and what we're doing, tracking me down wouldn't take but a minute."

"We had a problem at the hoose, too," Charley informed James and Joey, diffusing the tension. "Some photographer wanted pictures of Kate and got onto the grounds."

"How?" James asked frowning.

"He climbed onto his van, then jumped across the wall."

James rubbed his face in frustration, weary and needing to go to bed. "Maybe that's how our guy's been getting in?" he suggested, thinking aloud.

"I don't think so. At least not around the front," Chris mumbled.

"How do you know?" James asked.

"Because Harrison would have spotted him if it was around the front. Harry hadn't done this type of job before, but he wasn't sloppy," Chris explained. "And our guy can't be getting in through the back because there's a house. That leaves the sides of the property, where we don't cover."

James nodded in agreement and looked at Kate, who was watching the fire fighters go about their jobs. "Perhaps you could see to having extra security measure, Kate. Glass set on top of your walls, or a wire fence. That might deter him."

Kate looked at James and blinked, in a daze from the nights events. "I'll see what I can do."

"That might not even be how he's getting onto the property," Laurie said, not wanting to ruin the hope, but having to state the truth.

The rest of the night was uneventful. James drove Joey to his mum's house, and the investigators returned with Kate to the doctor's house to continue their shift. The investigators spent the night talking over their walkie-talkies, telling jokes, remembering old cases and missing friends, as the night dragged on. Anything to stop them thinking about what the perp was going to do next.



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