Chapter 3

Andrea Levi sent up a silent prayer as she entered Lieutenant Baines' office, hoping that he'd listen to what she had to say.

When she entered, she saw him walking on the treadmill in his office, sweating and counting under his breath. His office was furnished with state-of-the-art furniture, giving it the look of that of a senator or governor. Baines' office was his pride and joy, so he rarely left it.

“Levi.” He said in acknowledgement, stopping the treadmill and taking a nearby towel to his face.

“Sir.” She replied sharply.

Baines took a bottle of water, twisted off the cap and put it to his mouth, almost finishing the bottle's contents in one one gulp.

After that, he gave a loud burp before he sat in his chair, not bothering to excuse himself.

“What do you want?” He asked impatiently.

“Sir, I've come to call a certain illegal operation to your knowledge.” Andrea said as she slid a file folder to him.

Baines' cocked his eyebrow at her before opening the file, perusing the documents with squinted eyes.

“You see, there's a huge drug deal going down this weekend, it's between a major manufacturer and a major distributor, and I was privileged to have some info on where and when it's going to happen. Sir, this will be an unprecedented win for us if we take the opportunity that's landed in our laps and arrest both parties.” Andrea said with enthusiasm.

“Yes. I think your idea is great. I love it.” Baines said, and Andrea pumped her fist under the table. Getting Baines to sanction arrests and raids in Ganghaven was really hard. “But there's one tiny problem,” Baines continued, and Andrea gritted her teeth; she'd celebrated too soon.

“What's it?” Andrea asked with trepidation.

“It's going down in Ganghaven. You know we have a 'wash our hands off them' policy in that block.” Baines said.

“But Sir, these people are too advanced to be ignored wherever the deal's happening, even if it's in Wakanda. Moreover, the manufacturers are based in Gulden. It'll also be in Gulden's best interests to bust the deal.” Andrea pled passionately. 

Baines nodded and considered her words for a minute as he stroked his mustache. Again, hope blossomed in Andrea, and she found herself crossing her fingers, hoping that he'd reconsider.

That hope crashed when he said, “No.”

Andrea leapt, “But, Sir—”

He put his hand up as he interrupted her, “But nothing. Even if I wanted to sanction the bust, I can't. The mayor's holding his cat's burial or his wife's anniversary on the same day, and y'all will be there on protection duty. You'll be in charge of the parking lot. And don't you dare shirk your duties, or you'll be suspended.” 

Andrea felt disappointed and angry, but she struggled not to show it.

It must have worked, because as Baines stood up to let her out of his office, he smiled at her, “Wow! You took my decision better than the first person who came to me with this.”

His words set off alarm bells in her brain. Who had already talked to him about the bust, and how had the person gotten the info?

She had to tell Jo what had happened. She wouldn't be happy to hear that Baines had refused to sanction the bust.

*   *   *

The person who'd broached the topic of the bust with Baines before Andrea was none other than a fellow rookie, Pascal Eden. 

He was tall, quite muscular, had Roman features and a close-cropped haircut.

Nobody knew that Pascal had been a member of the Sopranos before Ash had told him to join the police force, so he could help get rid of the gangs in Ganghaven.

Pascal gritted his teeth as he strode into the men's. When he saw no one was around, he entered the farthest stall he could find and made a phone call.

Ash answered on the first ring because he'd been waiting for the call.

“What's up?” Ash asked, forgoing all semblance of kibitz.

“He refused. He said we had to be at an event the mayor's holding. If I'm not there, he assured me that I'd be suspended.” 

“Shit!” Ash exclaimed angrily, “Why is this man so apathetic? C'mon, living in Ganghaven is no crime. We're humans around here too. We deserve to be protected.”

“You're preaching to the choir. I'm sorry, there's nothing else I can do.” Pascal said, feeling like he'd let Ash down.

“Don't worry, it's not your fault. I'll see how I can handle the situation. One thing's for sure, that deal won't go smoothly.” Ash vowed.

Pascal believed Ash. He knew that Ash cared more than most about what happened in Ganghaven.

“I'm glad we have someone who cares for Odton as fiercely as you do. I don't even get why, I mean you're not even an indigene.” Pascal said, shaking his head at the mystery.

“Well, we all have our reasons for doing things.” Ash said in a guarded voice.

Pascal sighed. Whenever he mentioned that Ash was not from Ganghaven, he always became distant. Well, every man had the right to keep secrets, but Ash's own bugged him.

For some inexplicable reason, he suspected Ash wasn't doing all he was just because he was philanthropic.

Pascal knew the reason was deeper, but he didn't ask because he had secrets of his own to keep.

*   *   * 

Jo knocked on the door of her family house and got caught up in the nostalgic memory that entailed her waiting and counting the seconds until her father returned.

Her mother still lived in that house where her father had been murdered by unknown people. Jo and her mother suspected gangsters had been behind it.

Ruth said she felt closest to Gabe when she was in the house and wouldn't consider living elsewhere.

Her mother opened the door, “Jo!” She said, drawing her into a tight embrace.

“Mum, you're smothering me.” Jo complained, but she hugged her mother tightly too.

“Come in, I just made apple pie. You're too skinny.” Her mother said, ushering her into the sitting room.

Jo stepped into the sitting room, where her father's body had lain when he'd been shot, and shuddered. She didn't know how her mother coped with living in the house.

Ruth saw her daughter shudder and her heart went out to her. Instead of living a normal life like other young women her age, her daughter had sought out the toughest life ever; that of a gangster, just to make sure some poor child out there didn't go through the horrifying experience of having to see their parent die.

“So, what have you been up to, lately?” Ruth asked, as the entered the kitchen. She loved hearing of her daughter's ideas and escapades. They thrilled and terrified her in equal measure. 

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