Cowboy Bikers MC Lawmen by Esther E. Schmidt
– FRANKIE –
“Officer Dinkler,” I acknowledge the first-on-scene officer as I step inside the warehouse.
A dead woman–posed as a ballerina–is draped across the floor. Her hands are raised above her head in a bow while her legs are in a hoop. The soles of her feet are locked together. Her blonde hair is neatly tied up into a bun on the top of her head. Her body is surrounded by a thick red line marking the body on the floor.
Dinkler gives me a nod. “Special Agent Brennan.” He grabs his notepad and starts to rattle, “Multiple stab wounds and she has a crushed trachea. Victim’s name is Amber Bean. There’s no sign of the murder weapon. Coroner says it happened around ten last night.”
The officer shakes his head. “None.”
The sound of cowboy boots hitting the warehouse floor draws my attention away from the officer. There’s a man strolling our way and the first thought that comes to mind is “Texas Ranger.” Though, he doesn’t have a “Law abiding citizen” vibe, more like an “Outlaw” one if you ask me.
He’s wearing light brown cowboy boots, the same color as his Stetson, while his jeans are black along with the black shirt and leather cut he’s wearing. Removing his Stetson, with his inked-up hand, he reveals his hair. The sides are shaved short but the top is long and he slides his fingers through the long strands to slide it back from its disheveled state.
“Stop right there, sir,” Dinkler quickly says and rushes toward him. “This is a crime scene: how did you manage to slip through?”
I don’t know why Dinkler is assuming this man slipped through the watchful eye of my partner, who is right outside, along with another handful of officers.
“If I slipped through anything, you wouldn’t have seen me, squirt,” the man rumbles low. He rubs his neatly trimmed beard and lets his gaze slide over me. “I’m looking for special agent Frankie Brennan. Shame the name doesn’t match this sexy package right here.” He dismisses me and turns his attention back to Dinkler.
Before he can spit out some more nonsense I snap, “Officer Dinkler, my colleague, Jessy Tibbs, is right outside and wouldn’t have let this man pass unless he has clearance. Would you mind getting my partner for me?”
A slow grin spreads the cowboy’s face as Dinkler rushes out of the warehouse.
“Frankie Brennan is a special agent in a sexy package. Who knew,” he murmurs.
You obviously didn’t, my mind offers. I keep my face unaffected and can’t help the agitation tainting my veins due to this smooth-talking stranger barging into a crime scene. A crime scene that looks like the fourteenth victim of a serial killer that’s been active in this area. The FBI has been unsuccessfully hunting this serial killer for two years.
The way this body was posed? The red line around the body? The trachea crushed besides the stabbing? Everything fits the same modus operandi of The RedBorder Killer. It’s the name the media gave him. This killer tortures his victims but saves the actual kill by using his body as a weapon and then sickly adds a red border to mark his kill.
I assume the sick bastard likes to watch how he blocks the oxygen from the mouth, nose, and the brain, resulting in death. And if that’s not enough, the killer adds a line of blood around the body, as if he’s marking it as a crime scene.
“Frankie,” Jessy says as he steps inside the warehouse. “I just received a call from the director. This guy here is Atticus Wolffield, vice president of Cowboy Bikers MC Lawmen, he’s been put in charge of any of the cases involving the RedBorder Killer. They have a full team and are taking over this crime scene. We’re off this case. Everything indicates this is another victim of the serial killer.”
Atticus Wolffield. The name suddenly spikes a vivid memory from years ago. One where he was a real ass when the both of us were rookies. He had an ego that took up the whole room. I guess not much has changed.
“The RedBorder Killer, huh?” I muse and look back at the body. My gut says there’s something off but I guess that’s not for me to find out. “News travels too fast.”
“We have our ways to gather intel. Any intel, at any speed,” a husky voice says from right beside me.
My whole body goes rigid and I take a huge step to the side to put some distance between us. I keep my eyes on the victim and notice something that backs up my gut feeling. Leaning in I notice the woman’s wrists must have been bound and when I check her feet, they too show markings.
I might not have been assigned to any case of the serial killer, my father was before he died, and this doesn’t seem like it was the RedBorder Killer. Mainly because he likes to use other types of restraints instead of the wirelike markings this victim has.
“What do you see?” Atticus asks.
I glance at Jessy and double check, “The Cowboy Bikers MC Lawmen are taking over?” Jessy’s head bobs and I face Mister Annoying. “More than you’ll ever know.” I give him a dismissive nod. “Mr. Wolffield.”
“Stop right there, Frankie,” he rumbles from behind me. “You need to stay and answer some of my questions.”
Turning around I narrow my eyes and almost have to bite my lip to not snap the man’s head off. Why the hell do I need to answer his questions when he just took this crime scene from me? One I just walked in on mere moments before he did.
“Liquid fire in those gray depths. Anyone ever tell you how vibrant dull steel is until the color matches your lively eyes? Magnificent.” He steps closer to me. “Tell me what you noticed on the victim and I’ll put you back on the case.”
It takes effort to keep a straight face when I ask, “And you would have the authority to put me on a high-profile case?”
It’s a bullshit question, I know he has full authority to do whatever he wants. I’ve heard of the Cowboy Bikers MC Lawmen. They have quite the reputation around here with solving cases by using any means possible. Annoying since we all have to restrain ourselves with the necessary warrants, all the paperwork, and procedures we have to follow while they have free range to do whatever they need and want to catch killers.
They are above the law and yet they are the law. Twisted but there you have it. I had my first encounter with this guy when I was a rookie. Even if they are above the law they do have to go through training. I was unfortunate enough to be on the same team as him.
To say he gave me a good impression is an understatement. And the way he’s acting now? There is no way he recognizes me. It’s no wonder since back then I used my middle name, Enid. I had very short hair and was still wet behind the ears, so to say. It didn’t help I was much heavier than I am now.
My ass is still massive in my eyes but I exercise enough to keep the sweet balance between enjoying my food and staying healthy. Not to mention, my hair is long now, falling mid back, in my natural auburn red while back when I was a rookie, I dyed it blonde.
“Answer the question,” he simply repeats, letting the authority he clearly possesses simmer through his voice.
Pointing at the victim I tell the man, “The markings on her wrists and feet tell me the killer used wire to keep her bound instead of the tape the RedBorder killer uses. Plus, the RedBorder Killer would have put makeup on her and then smeared the lips. This woman doesn’t have makeup on.”
I suck my bottom lip into my mouth to stop voicing my suspicions. I have no clue why I told him these things. It’s none of my business and they were just observations I’m sure he would have noticed as well.
“And,” he rumbles, making a signal with his hand for me to continue.
I release a deep sigh. “This was only speculation but…I’ve been told the killer cuts a piece of their hair but leaves it in place, as if he wants it to disconnect from the head because he doesn’t take it with him. He doesn’t take souvenirs. Nothing I’ve mentioned was released to the media, it’s why I noticed them. My father worked the case until three months ago when he was killed in the line of duty.”
“William Brennan.” Atticus nods and suddenly he narrows his eyes. “The first time I met him was quite some years back.” He hums. “I remember you.”
A sly grin slides in place. His head tilts to the side and his gaze slides over me, from top to bottom.
“Didn’t you used to be a blonde?” He leans in and whispers, “Enid.”
I can feel my face heat. Shit. He does remember. Maybe it’s a good thing because I had the same temper I had back then.
“I don’t see what any personal details about me have to do with this case,” I snap and give a dismissive nod. “Mr. Wolffield. I hope our next encounter will be as many years apart as our last one. If not longer.”
I grind my teeth all the way back to my car. When I swing my door open, I’m surprised it’s instantly slammed shut.
“I see your temper has grown as well,” Atticus remarks with amusement.
There is no holding back when I act on instinct. My fingers curl into a fist and I punch his shoulder. Hard.
He grabs my wrist. “Now, now, Enid. That’s no way to greet an old friend.”
My nose wrinkles in distaste. “Old friend? Annoying self-absorbed asshole who thinks he’s better than anyone and likes to degrade agents who work hard to get where they want to be in an already fucked-up environment ruled by the same egocentric men.”
“Take a breath, Enid. You need it after that run-on sentence.” Atticus chuckles.
Chuckles! I pull my wrist from his grip and snarl, “Stop calling me Enid.”
Movement catches my attention and I notice Jessy stalking my way. There are three bikers with the same leather cut and cowboy appearance as Atticus standing near their bikes. Their arms are crossed in front of their chest and they are clearly openly enjoying my run-in with their annoying vice president.
I hate Atticus for being right, but I do take his advice and suck in a calming breath. Shooting the man a very fake, polite smile, I open my car door and get inside. Refusing to give him another glance, I back out of the parking lot and drive off.
Jessy and I were about to clock out when the call about this homicide came in which means I’m heading home. It’s been a rough day and with the encounter I just had? I’m going to need a hot bath and a huge glass of wine in my hand.
I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did. It was stupid, unprofessional, and I have to admit, it’s been a very long time since I’ve let anyone get to me the way he did within seconds.
I’m sure it had everything to do with the repressed anger on my account from dealing with his massive ego back when we were rookies. But to be honest? He’s still an egocentric dick if you ask me. Only this time he outranks me.
Back then the both of us were rookies but he obviously had his whole career path paved with golden, shiny tiles to slide right into the VP status since his father was the president of the MC. He would ultimately become the president when his father retires. And while my father was a respectable special agent, I had to fight every step of the way to gain respect.
Twice as hard. Maybe it was just my imagination or they might have thought they’d go harder on a special agent’s daughter, whatever; it isn’t an easy career path to go through when you’re a woman in a world where men outweigh the women by a truckload.
On the other hand, I learned to keep my chin up and work my ass off. I’ve always had a huge drive and ambition to be the best at what I do. My closing rate with criminal cases is the highest in my department. Which also means I basically have no life.
I never had a boyfriend and only ever had one sexual encounter where I was left confused because there was no pain in taking my virginity and I didn’t even feel him so much as enter me and everything happened in the dark. I’ve left it behind me and figured I’d focus on my career instead.
So, no boyfriend, no pets, no family since my mother died three years ago and like I mentioned to Atticus, my father died in the line of duty three months ago. I don’t take vacations, don’t have friends, except for my next-door neighbor, Mysti, who is uber social and forces herself into my life every now and then.
Parking in my driveway, I slide out of the car and thankfully notice Mysti’s car is missing. No cheerful wave, no rushing over to chat; no enthusiastic greeting whatsoever. I’d say my day is already improving.
I grab my keys from my pocket and open the door. Once inside, I lock up and throw the keys on the little table in the hallway and I kick my boots off while I’m at it. My first trip is to the bedroom to peel off my bra.
Yes, I have priorities and it states in capitals; COMFORT. This means, no bra, and no freaking pants. Instead of taking a long bath with some wine, I decide to hit the shower and make it a quick one to eventually slide into one of the many oversized music merchandise t-shirts I own and end up on the couch with my phone in hand to order myself a pizza.
The sound of a motorcycle rumbles outside until it suddenly stops. I’m flipping through movies when the doorbell rings. Glancing at the clock, I notice it’s only been ten minutes since I ordered my pizza and I hope it’s not Mysti knocking at my door. Releasing a deep sigh, I stalk to the door and peek through the peephole.
Shock registers and I instantly shout, “Go away.”
“Open the door, Frankie,” the man simply shoots back.
The peephole shows me a tiny figure coming from Mysti’s driveaway and I dare say this is the first time I’m happy to see her. They can annoy each other and I won’t have to let either one inside; a perfect solution.
I step away from the door and cringe when I hear Mysti rattle through the open window, “Well hello biker hotstuff. Where have you been all my life? Oh, I know, knocking on my neighbor’s door while you should be knocking on mine.”
Yes, I cringe again and decide I might need the wine right about now.
I’m about to step into the direction of the kitchen when I hear Atticus’ smooth reply, “Sorry, doll. You’re a stunner but for now I’m here to see Frankie.”
I can imagine her pout and I have to freaking cringe once more when she shamelessly says, “We could go next door for a quicky. I’m sure Frankie is in the shower if she’s not answering. She wouldn’t even notice.”
Seriously? This woman has no shame. I’m sure I’ll hate myself for doing this but I swing the door open and shake my head at Mysti.
The woman just shoots me a grin. “I knew you were listening in. Now, spread that door a little more the way you also should do with your legs and let that man in. The dry spell ends now, Frankie. This man is just what you need.”
Oh. My. God. She planned it that way. Ugh. What I need is the floor to open up and swallow me already.
Atticus is fighting laughter and I grumble through gritted teeth, “Get inside, Atticus. And you, Mysti, I swear, one of these days–”
She cuts me off with a wave of her hand. “Yeah, yeah, thank me later when your mood is better after that hot man has given you all the blissful orgasms.”
My jaw hits the floor and prevents me from giving a nasty comeback when she scurries over to her own house. I slam the door shut and face Atticus.
I decide to cut straight to the chase. “What are you doing here?”
He surprises me when he does the same and simply says, “I’d like to have you on the case.”
Confused I blurt, “The homicide crime scene we just left?”
“Nope, the serial killer case your father was working on.”
The doorbell rings, breaking our discussion. I drag my attention away from the confusing man standing in front of me to grab my wallet from the tiny desk and open the door to grab the two pizzas and give the deliveryman his cash. I thank the guy before locking up behind him.
“Nice, pizza. I’m starved,” Atticus says and grabs the two boxes. “Two? Are you expecting anyone?”
“No,” I growl and rip the two boxes away from him. “I’m hungry and off tomorrow so that’s my breakfast as well.”
Amusement fills his face. “Cold pizza for breakfast, you sound like many of my brothers.” His gaze falls on my bare legs and I suddenly realize I’m only dressed in my oversized shirt. “Though, you’re nothing like them.”
I stroll to the couch, plunk down, press play on some movie I picked out, flip the top of one of the boxes, and grab myself a slice before setting in to ignore him.
“Are you ignoring me?” he rumbles.
If he has to ask, I’d say it’s not working the way it should. Keeping my eyes set on the TV, I feel the couch dip beside me and watch from the corner of my eye how he grabs a slice of pizza and also settles in to watch and eat.
This continues until the both of us have polished off a whole pizza and are watching the damn movie together. He’s even gotten up and gone into the kitchen to get the both of us a bottle of water.
Reluctantly, I sigh, knowing I can’t ignore him any longer. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to work together.”
“Why? Afraid you won’t be immune to my charm and realize we will end up in bed together? Because that’s what going to happen one way or another.”
He licks his lips but I roll my eyes. “I see your ego is still taking up all your brain cells, or maybe half of it is led by your dick now, whatever. I think I’ve indulged you enough. This is my house, I’m off the clock, I have no interest in working with you and I’m am very pleased with the job I currently have. There’s the door, you can show yourself out.”
“Was I such a dick to you all those years ago? I mean, the only time chicks act this pissed off at me is because they want my dick but it doesn’t want them, or I’ve been a dick. Knowing I just freely offered you my dick, and we didn’t have sex…yet. So, I’d say it’s the latter.”
Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick. For the life of me I can’t think why Cowboy Bikers MC Lawmen close so many cases when all he rattles about is the thing between his legs.
I would like to continue to ignore him but the truth is, his stare is deep and penetrating and makes my body heat in a way I’ve never experienced. And to be honest? I’m not prepared to experience anything from him any time soon. His appearance, status, way of living, and talking clearly indicates this man is very experienced.
While I however am still somewhat of a virgin. Somewhat since I do have one sexual experience. Well, if you can count it as one. The guy either had a minuscule dick or he didn’t even fully penetrate and blew his load in the condom after one half-assed thrust.
So, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even know how to handle a man like him. Not to mention, what would he think of me when we do end up in bed together? Yeah, all the more reason not to go there.
“Okay, I’ll give you some time to think about it.” He pulls a card from his leather cut and places it on the table in front of me. “Swing by the clubhouse or call me if you change your mind. Someone with your talent might be what we need to catch this serial killer. And Enid?”
I narrow my eyes, angry he’s using my middle name again.
“I promise to behave and only focus on work if that’s what you want. But also know the offer to be in my bed stands.” He gives me a self-assured smirk and stalks out of my house.
My belly flutters from his last words and I swear my clit starts to throb. Releasing a low growl, I jump off the couch and head for the kitchen. I need wine. The whole bottle to forget the man ever set foot in my house. Good thing I have tomorrow off to do just that and the next day? I’m going to forget he was ever here and go back to work.
Though, the nagging pressure on my chest is heavy with the longing to finish something my father and his partner were working on. It’s a hard contradiction from what I told Atticus but it’s because I’ve been torn inside.
It wasn’t my case and here this man simply strolls into my own house and offers me the chance. It will be hard and memories of my father will be vivid; it’s only been three months since I lost him. Also, something I don’t think I’m prepared for. But I guess one can never fully prepare for anything because life is filled with bombshells.
It’s wine-time to get my head foggy before I can start to clear it and make life-changing decisions. I pop the cork and bring the bottle along with a glass back to the couch, settling in for a long night while the room is still annoyingly filled with the scent of Atticus. Shit. Time to stick my nose deep into the glass and forget everything that happened today.