any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you
are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.
An Excerpt From:
? Copyright Joey Hill, 2004.
All Rights Reserved,
Ellora's Cave, Inc.
?I?ve got a meeting with the captain
at ten, Mac.?? Sergeant Darla Rowe
took a seat behind her desk and lifted a brow as one of her top people
closed her door before taking a seat before her.? She straightened, put her hands on her
desk, one folded over the other.?
?What?s on your mind, Detective??
?We found a second body last night,?
Mac said, forcing himself to sit back in the chair
and ignore the painful knot low in his belly.? The dead kid he?d just stood over had had
a much worse day than he was having, no matter how bad his sergeant?s
reaction was going to be.
He?d been working in her squad over
two years, and he trusted her.? She
had a level head, an unfathomable patience for bureaucrats, but no
tolerance for bullshit, and she was loyal and fair to her people.? He was counting heavily on fair, but he
was venturing into territory where fair was often drowned by moral
?Same MO.? Mid to late twenties male.? Worked as a stockbroker.? Good WASP background, church-goer.? He was
dressed in a leather thong, dog collar, cuffed spread-eagle to his four
poster bed, dildo up his ass, begging your pardon.? Bullet in the base of his skull.?
?Detective Ramsey said she thought
that the murderer may resent the victims? social standing, may be trying to
humiliate them.? Rowe nodded.? ?Have
we been able to keep a lid on the press??
?No leaks on the way the vic was found.?
We?ve told them it appears to be a sex crime, bullet to the head,
but that?s all.?? Mac lifted a
shoulder.? ?Connie has good
instincts, but we?re still waiting for the official psych profile, and it
doesn?t mesh to me.? If the perp was trying to humiliate them publicly, I?d think
she?d have sent pictures to the paper by now.?
?Nail gouges on the victim?s back
suggest it, but they were done with gloves on.? We?re doing DNA checks.? In both cases a caller has contacted one
of the parents, told them that they have to come right away because there?s
an emergency at the victim?s home.? I
think she?s revealing the truth about the victim, perhaps reenacting a
similar trauma that happened to her, or something
she wants to reveal about herself but never has gotten the chance or the
guts to do it.? Just amateur
analysis, granted, but it smells right.?
Darla?s eyes narrowed.? ??Revealing the truth???
?Yes, ma?am.? Both men frequented a fetish club called
The Zone in Tampa.? I had a uniform go down there today, talk
to the manager, confirm their memberships with a
warrant to pull their specific records.?
They were very cooperative as soon as they understood their members
could be in danger.? They?ll be a
helpful ally.? I think our murderess
is a practicing sexual Dominant, a Mistress, and she?s choosing her victims
from The Zone, even if she?s not playing with them there.? Granted, two victims doesn?t establish a
Rowe sat back, her brows lifted. ?But
it does give us some lead on her preferred trawling grounds.? Excellent work, Detective.? Who called the families??
?A man, both times.? Called from a pay phone, but it?s
suspected from the speech patterns described by the parents that the caller
was a drifter or homeless person the perp paid to
make the call.? Different men, based
on the voices described.? We?re
casing the local liquor and convenience stores near the booths to which we
traced the calls to see if the store employees remember a homeless person
coming in and dropping an unusual amount of money for a bottle of booze in
the past forty-eight hours.? However,
both calls were made from the worst areas of Tampa, so it?s likely they?ve rabbited and we can take our pick of a few thousand
?So how did you make The Zone
connection?? Business card for The
Zone in their wallets??
Mac hesitated.? ?No, ma?am.? Both victims were extremely circumspect
about their lifestyles.? That gels
with the reputation of The Zone.? The
club even provides lockers there for members to keep their paraphernalia,
so it?s not kept in the home.? They
don?t give out member ID cards.? They
put your social security on file and when you come, you enter it into the
entry key pad.? That?s how you get
in.?? He shifted. ?I?ve done a little
Sergeant Darla Rowe had seen Mac
Nighthorse come out of situations that would give nightmares to the most
grizzled veteran.? He?d started his
career in undercover work, proving himself so adept at deep cover and
maintaining the integrity of his personality in that high stress area, that they?d kept him in it for over five
years.? When he?d advanced into
public field work, he quickly obtained his Detective rating, working cases
24/7 to solve murders, armed robberies, kidnappings.? She?d listened to wire taps of him
breaking up volatile drug deals.? A
few months ago, he had taken down a Tampa
serial killer one-on-one in the cramped quarters of the sewer system when
the killer had gone to ground there with an AK47.? Mac had been disarmed, his arm broken
during the fight, and had brought the killer down with nothing but
determination and a healthy dose of fury.?
He didn?t freeze, and he wasn?t cocky.? He was so steady the other guys called
him The Oak, not just because of his size, but because of that unflappable
demeanor, no matter the circumstances.?
At the moment, she was watching the
wooden arm of her visitor chair grow slick with nervous sweat from his
?What?s on your mind here, Mac?? she
asked, pointedly glancing at the damp surface.
He stared at it, then lifted his hand,
leaned forward and clasped both hands loosely between his splayed
knees.? It emphasized his broad
shoulders, the long columns of his thighs.?
As usual, Darla sternly forced her gaze off the nice shape of his
groin outlined by the dress slacks.??
Since she was happily married, it was aesthetic appreciation only,
but it wasn?t exactly professional to be caught eyeing the crotch of one of
her detectives.? She had often
wondered why Mac didn?t have a woman in his life, but suddenly she got the
feeling she was about to find out why.?
?To find her, we?re going to need to
send someone undercover in The Zone.?
She?s picking up submissives,
that?s the terminology, winning their trust, so she?s likely already
working her next target.?
?So we pull in an undercover team.?
He shook his head.? ?That won?t work, Sarge.? This isn?t a seedy adult club where the
criminals mix with the thrill seekers.??
The activity at The Zone is legal, and the clientele is high
dollar.? This is about sexual
gratification, not perversion.?? He
raked a hand through his hair.? ?It?s
not the same as the criminal side.?
To most people in the vanilla world it looks that way, but it?s the
difference between a murder and a natural death.? One is forced coercion.? The other one?s about natural law.? A cop who doesn?t understand that would
stand out so clearly he might as well wear his badge pinned on his chest.?
Darla sat back.? ?I?m going to repeat my question,
Mac.? Why don?t you tell me what?s
going on between the lines here??
He nodded, looked down at his big
hands, laced them together, then he raised his face so he met her
expression square on with those silver eyes that could freeze a criminal in
his tracks or pry the truth out of the most devious snitch.?? Right now, they looked like they were
facing the prospect of a prostate exam with Andre the Giant donning the latex
?I know those types of clubs, Sarge.? I?ve been
part of the D/s scene since I was in my late twenties.? I know the language and the people.? The Zone isn?t my usual haunt.? It?s out of my income bracket.? A light
smile touched his lips.? ?But every
club has a certain percentage of new blood running through it, guests of
members, prospective members, people who try it out for a couple months.?
?I see.?? She tapped two fingers on the desk, a
meditative gesture that the men and women of her squad recognized as a sign
she was mulling things over in her head.?
?And if you?re made as a cop??
You?re a little well-established to be doing undercover work
?It might not rouse suspicion,
particularly if it?s obvious I?m part of the scene.? A cop who plays in those waters would
have as much interest in concealing his or her profession as any of the
well-heeled clientele.?? On the
floor, most use assumed or first names only.? The rule is, if you happen to see someone
you know on the street, you either pretend you don?t know them, or that you
met them at a mainstream place, like a bar.?
That?s how I made the connection.?
I recognized the second victim.?
He?s been at my usual club before, several times, but I knew The
Zone was his preferred digs.?
He sat back, sliding back on the
familiar ground of the case, trying to ignore that his sergeant?s gaze was
as intense as a dentist?s drill on him.
?Robert Myers was a submissive.? High-powered, but amiable.? Enjoyed having a woman dominate
him with soft bondage techniques, but he could accommodate a higher
level.? I don?t know if that figures
into the MO or if there?s some other aspect of the two men that was the
attraction.? The psych profile may
help me figure that part out.? I?m
expecting that in a couple of days.?
Neither of them would have let his dick overrule good sense.? Again, begging your pardon, ma?am.? They would have spent some time with the
murderess before taking her into their home, or they would have already
known her in the scene.?
?Do you have someone on the inside you
can use as your initial connection to the place??
?Not at this point, but I should be
able to pick up someone.? It?s not
unusual to connect with someone there for play.? Sometimes it sticks for a few days,
sometimes just for the night, but by then you get to be a known face.?
?How will you bring in your backup??
He shook his head.? ?I won?t be able to do that in this
scenario.? Unless they?re part of the
lifestyle, they would be made as fast as a cop trying to pass himself off
as a dope addict.? I figure I could
keep Consuela ? Detective Ramsey ? informed of my itinerary and whereabouts
through the usual call-in set up.??
?You going in
as a Dominant or a submissive??
Mac blinked. ?A sub.? Makes more sense that way.?
?I?m not seeing anyone buying you as
someone?s whipping boy, Mac.? Not
with your size and presence.?
She watched him lace, unlace his
fingers again, lean forward, and felt the shock run down to her toes at the
truth she saw in his pained expression.
?It?s best I go in under my own
?Well, I?ll be damned,? she said at