CRIMES OF PASSION
Somehow, after solving one particularly squirrelly case, Clay Mortimer and Tate Williams of M&W Investigations have been deemed experts in all things Fetish Alley. Tate’s taken an undercover assignment for the London police, and solves it with his usual flair. When a brutal and particularly sensitive murder send the shop owners and patrons of Fetish Alley up in arms, once again the police department calls upon Tate and Clay to take the lead in solving the grisly crime. Meanwhile their lives are being redefined in ways neither of them expected, and even though change can be scary, these brave men make certain that love guides them on every road they travel.
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"You cowardly fucker. You're not getting away from me this time." With a sudden rush of energy spurred on by his determination not to let the sleazy bastard in front of him slip his leash, Tate took off at a dead run.
Tosser, Tate thought triumphantly as he drew closer to the man wearing an eyesore of a suit running clumsily down the street. I hope you have a fucking heart attack like your victims did. The man turned to look behind him, and Tate noticed with satisfaction that the asshole's face was apoplectic: sweat glistening on ruddy cheeks. Tate felt a slight pang of misgiving in seeing his condition, wondering for one moment whether the heart attack was actually a possibility. He wasn't sure Rick would be good with that. This guy needed to stay alive to pass on the information Rick needed.
The misgiving was short-lived as the morgue photos of the three people killed by the fucktard flashed through Tate's mind. Bugger the police catching the git to get more info about his bosses. It'd serve the wanker right to pop his clogs, he thought grimly as he came up behind the man, almost within arm's length. One step more and ...
"Gotcha, you bastard," Tate growled, his chest heaving as he gripped the jacket of the POS and pulled him to a stop.
The man swung at Tate with his briefcase, but Tate dodged the clumsy attempt and pushed the man to the ground face first. "Give it up, you wanker," he demanded. "You're not fucking going anywhere. Lie there and take it like a man, you despicable shitfucker."
In his ear there was a snort of amusement. "You really have to watch your language," Clay chuckled quietly through the earpiece. "There's a whole team here rolling around on the floor in laughter, apart from Ellis, of course. He's looking rather scandalised."
"Yeah?" Tate smirked as he took delight in kneeling on his now protesting and panting victim. "Well, Ellis can suck my dick."
He grinned at the indignant squawk he heard through the earpiece. Ellis Tremont was a valuable and well-liked member of the Mortimer Investigations team, but he was a bit of a prude. "I've run half a fucking mile, doing the hard work, so you lot sitting in a comfy van can grin and bear a couple of choice words." He snapped the handcuffs on the man now lying docile and still.
Tate stood up and hauled the man to his feet. "Rick, you want to come out and do the caution?" Tate looked down the street to where his nephew Rick and the rest of the sting crew, including Clay, sat in an unmarked police van a few blocks away. "I'm only the muscle on this one, remember?" Tate wasn't a policeman anymore, his ability to arrest someone legally long gone.
"Be there in a jif —" Rick's voice was lost to static and Tate's brow furrowed. "Give me — sec ..."
Tate rolled his eyes and set about escorting the man down the street toward the van. Members of the public ignored them, walking with heads down to whatever destination they were bound for.
You had to love London, Tate thought grimly. Every man for himself.
"You can't do this," the asshole, George Fisher, burbled, his chest still heaving and face looking as if it had been hit by a wet rag. "You're not a policeman. I have rights. I want a lawyer."
"I don't give a fuck about your rights. I'm the man they asked to take you down. You can talk to him, much good it'll do you," Tate remarked in satisfaction as he gestured to the tall figure in the distance. George huffed and puffed beside Tate as he was escorted through the city. When they reached the location of the van, the newly promoted Detective Inspector Rick Grant smiled as he reached them and took in Fisher's appearance.
"Oh dear," Rick murmured. "You appear to look a bit the worse for wear, George. Perhaps the cold shower they'll give you after I book you at the station will help get the stench of slimy low-down wankpot off you. I've heard that Eau de New Villain is a somewhat sought-after delicacy in jail." Rick shrugged as he took a tight hold of the wankpot. Tate had to use that one sometime.
"Not that I care. They can sniff you 'til the cows come home." He began to caution Fisher, who was white in the face, staring at Rick with widened, frightened eyes.
"You can't put me with everyone else —"
"Shut up while I'm talking. You can have your turn after I caution you." Rick continued with his well-practised words of legal caution as he steered Fisher to the waiting police car that had now driven up beside the van. Spectators gazed at them curiously but avoided getting too close. A couple of youngsters had their phones up, no doubt shooting the arrest, which would probably go out onto social media within moments. Out of habit, Tate made sure his back was turned, and his peak cap (which had stayed on during the pursuit, small miracles indeed) was pulled down over his face.
Tate huffed in amusement. "You still there, Clay?" He dusted off his well-worn jeans and made his way to the van. The last rays of sunshine were disappearing, and the street became dimmer.
"I'm here. You okay?" Clay's words warmed Tate's chest because while they were simple, they were fraught with meaning. This undercover sting operation Tate had agreed to after some deliberation — given his last undercover operation years ago had nearly killed him — had been a point of contention between them.
Rick had never meant for Tate to get involved, but, one night over dinner, after hearing the nature of the case, Tate had offered his services rather vehemently, pooh-poohing Clay's concerns about Tate taking on the job.
George Fisher had been selling black market drugs to desperate people. The drugs were procured on the dark web, and unfortunately, the biggest downside of buying George's products was that death generally ensued. So far, three people buying banned substances formerly classified as legal high drugs had died of heart failure due to the high level of some substance, which Tate couldn't even remember, let alone pronounce the word. Two others had suffered permanent blindness from a "miracle" diet drug Fisher was peddling.
Someone had to engineer a buy with the man responsible and stop the carnage, and that someone had been Tate.
"Yep, I'm good. Looking forward to that cold beer you promised me after we were done here." Tate reached the van and knocked on the door. It opened immediately, and he hauled himself inside the back of the kitted-out, custom-made surveillance vehicle belonging to Mortimer and Williams Investigations.
Clay stood at the back, dressed casually in a pair of chinos and a long-sleeved blue shirt. He came forward and grasped Tate's shoulder, squeezing lightly. "You did it," he remarked softly, the look of pride in his eyes sending a tingle to Tate's chest. "Well done. For one moment there, I didn't think he was going to bite."
"Who can resist Tate when he gets going?" Ellis observed drily. "The man's a master at talking someone into performing an illegal act." He winked at Tate, the earlier remark of dick sucking seemingly forgiven.
Ellis was a tall, slender black man, with a shaved head and shiny pate who was seated at the console, which was covered with various monitors and monitoring paraphernalia. The van was Ellis's pride and joy. His speciality was anything that involved monitoring and observation. He was a gadget geek of note.
Tate shrugged as he sauntered over to the fridge and took out a bottle of beer. "What can I say? I'm a genius." He pulled the cap from the bottle and drank thirstily.
Clay regarded him with amusement. "Well, I wouldn't go that far. The main thing is, Rick got his man and hopefully those drugs will be taken off the streets."
Tate put down his drink and grunted. "For now. Until the next one comes along. You know it never stops, right? We take one down, another prick springs up in his place." He pulled his earpiece out and set it down on the desktop.
"Way to be positive, man," Ellis murmured as he fiddled with his computer equipment. "One prick at a time. Isn't that what you gays say?" He smirked then yowled as Tate reached down and slapped him across the back of his head.
"Don't give up the day job," Tate growled as he took another pull of beer. "That was pathetic." He smiled at Clay. "I think we need to send Ellis for sensitivity training. Didn't you have a three-day course coming up we can enrol him in?"
Ellis looked up, eyes wide. "Oh good God, please no," he pleaded mock-pitifully. "I don't think I could stand it. I'll behave, I promise."
Clay rolled his eyes at the pair of them. "You two should do a comedy act together," he murmured, a smile in his voice. "Actually, forget that. I can't think of a worse idea."
They both looked over at the door as Rick came back into the van. He came over and reached out a hand for Tate to shake. "Thanks for everything," he murmured with a sideways glance at Clay. "I know poppa bear over there wasn't keen, but we wouldn't have gotten this done as soon as we did without your help."
Clay groaned. "Oh for God's sake. Knock off with the bear references, will you?"
Tate laughed as he shook Rick's hand. "No problem. Glad I could help. It was actually kind of fun getting back into it."
Clay's eyes narrowed. "You aren't thinking of making a habit of it, are you? The undercover thing?" His tone was light, but underneath the worry was clear. He couldn't blame Clay. The last five years hadn't been easy, what with Tate's PTSD, his predilection to self-destruct, and Clay having been there for it all and helping him through.
Tate had no intention of going back undercover in any serious mission, but he had to say he'd not mind doing something that perhaps wasn't potentially life threatening but got him out in the field more. He hated the desk part of his job. It sucked. Management sucked. Luckily that was more Clay's speciality.
Tate reached up and ran a finger down Clay's jawline. "Don't worry," he said softly. "I promise I'll not subject myself to anything too dangerous." He turned to Rick. "So George is in the bag and as Ellis so eloquently said, that's one prick off the street." He ignored Ellis's snigger. "That should earn you some brownie points with the powers-that-be, given your recent promotion?"
Rick shrugged but he looked pleased with himself. "I suppose. I can't say it won't help build my badass rep." He blew on his fingernails and rubbed them against his shirted chest.
Clay nodded. "Glad we could help you garner accolades. Even if it does mean using my boyfriend to be your undercover stooge."
Rick winced. "You guys are still saying boyfriend. Clay, you're forty now. Don't you think it's time to change the status quo and make an honest man of my uncle?"
Clay scowled at the reference to his age and glanced over at Tate, who shook his head and grinned.
"Don't look at me," Tate returned. "It's you, Ricky boy, who after many years together, and a load of rumours, decided to go all legal with Lauren and officially ask her to marry you." He prodded Rick in the cheek with his finger. "Not all of us have the cajones to take that plunge, Grasshopper." He shrugged. "It'll happen when it happens, right?"
I have the rings. But the time isn't right yet. I'll know when it is.
He smiled at Clay and moved toward the van door. Ellis slapped Tate's hand as he pilfered the last piece of KitKat from the silver foil lying beside the computer console.
"Clay, tell your boy to stop eating everything in sight. I swear, I had a whole packet of jelly babies here this morning, and now I only have the green ones left. You know I hate the green ones."
Tate popped the chocolate into his mouth with a delighted sigh. "Yeah, about that, Ellis. You sound like a diva with the whole 'I don't like green jelly babies' shit. Are you channelling Rhianna or something?" He dodged Ellis's blow to his arm and opened the door. "Coming?" He raised one eyebrow at Clay. "I have a bike out there with my name on it." Tate had won this morning's game of rock, paper, scissors, so he got to drive Clay's bike home.
Clay gave a long-suffering sigh and picked up his biker jacket. "Coming." He turned to look at Rick and Ellis. "Great job today, gentlemen. At least we got one scumbag off the streets."
Tate stepped out onto the dark lane and walked over to the bike. He got out the helmets and his biker jacket and shrugged it on as Clay did the same.
"Hold tight," Tate muttered wickedly as they settled themselves on the bike. "I'm in the mood for danger."
Behind him Clay snorted. "As if I didn't know that already. Don't get me a traffic ticket and we'll be fine."
"Oh, I'll be watchful." Tate gunned the engine and turned back to look at Clay, as his green eyes peered at him in amusement from behind the visor. "Now grip me tight and call me Daddy."
He grinned at Clay's muffled chuckle as he swung the bike in to join the traffic.
* * *
Later that night Tate sat alone on the patio of their home in Twickenham. He was planted in a deck chair, his feet propped up on the iron-cast table, enjoying the chilled night air of an April evening. Temperatures hadn't yet risen to a level that he felt comfortable removing his jacket, and despite it, he shivered a little.
Surely it should be warmer by now? It's mid-April for God's sake.
He puffed a sigh at the vagaries of the English weather and took a sip of his whisky, listening to Clay arguing with someone on the phone. Tate smiled. Clay wasn't a person to mess with and it sounded like, once again, someone was doing their best to royally piss him off.
"No, you listen to me." Clay didn't shout much but his tone had this way of hardening, that drove a chill of ice through a person's bones and made them listen. If you had brains, that was. Right now it sounded like the person Clay was talking to was in short supply.
"I'm not discussing this any further, Nigel," Clay spat out. "You endangered the lives of two of Tim's people and nearly ruined the whole fucking operation. Why? So you could show someone how much in command you were? You had no right overruling the authority of the local police, and certainly not the fucking SWAT team leader. Timothy Bishop has been doing this a lot longer than you, and he knows his stuff."
Tate winced. The operation Clay alluded to was one that fell officially outside of Mortimer Investigations' purview due to its sensitive humanitarian and political nature. It wouldn't do to have the public know an outside private firm handled the government's problems.
Unofficially, Clay had been asked to use his contacts and experience in the field to assist in foiling a human trafficking operation. The National Crime Agency (NCA) was cracking down on unsavoury elements at the UK borders. It sounded like Nigel Bouchard, a representative from the French border police who'd been brought in to assist with the Dover operation, had overstepped the mark somehow.
Tate wasn't a fan of Bouchard. The arrogant ass was a bully and tended to think he knew better in every instance. However, Bouchard's subordinate, a woman called Sophie, was someone to be admired. She knew how to work well with others, and was compassionate and intelligent. She was the sort of person Tate could see Clay recruiting for M&W Investigations, if he hadn't already done so.
"You're off the operation, Bouchard." Clay walked outside, his gaze lighting on Tate. He eyed up Tate's drink and licked his lips. Tate chuckled and got up to get Clay one. It looked like he needed it as he continued railing at Bouchard.
"I've already asked your boss to replace you and send someone who understands that taking and following my orders are the way things have to be," Clay continued, tone frosty. "Pack your bags and go home. For you, it's over." He disconnected the call and smiled gratefully at Tate as he took a swig of his drink. "Thanks. Jesus Christ, that man is a wanker. He actually interfered with Tim's op and countermanded his instructions." Clay flashed a wicked smile. "I understand Tim had a few choice words to say and even threatened to shoot Bouchard. Hence the dipshit's phone call to me."
"You spoke to Tim earlier, didn't you? He was warning you Bouchard was going to call and make a fuss." Tate sat back down in his chair and sipped his drink, which had now been topped up. Clay nodded and sat down next to him.
"I had accounts of the situation from other parties too, so it wasn't a big surprise." He shrugged. "Bouchard wasn't my first choice. In fact, I didn't want him, but I was overruled." He looked a little smug. "That'll teach them to listen to me the first time."
Tate chuckled softly. "You're such a badass," he murmured. "I don't know how you sleep at night."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Death by C*CK"
Copyright © 2019 Susan Elaine Mac Nicol.
Excerpted by permission of Boroughs Publishing Group.
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