Cuffed(5)

By: Joanna Blake


I would never set foot in his joint, except to interrogate the bastard.

But this- this might lead us in the right direction. A turning point to finally pin something on the Hell Raisers. Or any of the local gangs really. They were all culpable.

Anyone who had even so much as breathed near Danny’s killer was on my hit list. And I meant to take them all down.

They were all guilty by association.

I splashed water on my face and hopped in the car without even making a pot of coffee. There was a stale cup in the cup holder and I slugged it down, wincing at the bitter taste.

Stale, cold coffee… yeah, I was pretty sure that was my blood type at this point. It was the reason I never took milk with it. Black coffee stayed drinkable a hell of a lot longer.

I should know.

I drove the forty-five minutes in absolute silence. My mind was clear. I liked to go into any crime scene situation completely blank.

Clean.

Open.

I saw the flashing lights. They were less than twenty yards from the parking lot of The Jar. Whoever had done this had either been in a hurry or didn’t give a shit about pissing Mason off.

That was the first clue. There was no way this was an Untouchable. Even if Mason wasn’t active, they wouldn’t shit where they ate.

But someone who didn’t like Mason… well, this was a real good way to cause trouble for him.

I imagined he was pretty pissed off right about now. My suspicions were confirmed as I pulled up to the bar and parked.

Mason stood out front, his arms crossed over his massive chest.

I could almost see the steam coming out of his ears. He nodded to me and went back to staring at the crime scene.

That’s when I saw it.

At edge of the parking lot, not far from the scene was a smoking bike. It had been torched.

I stared at it, my mind absorbing visual clues, sorting them into facts and feelings.

I had a hunch that the killer, or killers, had toasted the victim’s bike, but not to make it look like an accident. This already looked like plain old murder. These guys didn’t value life the way ordinary folks did.

But this was unusual. Little was done to hide the crime. The fire wasn’t meant to hide evidence.

No. This was an insult to the dead man. Sort of like spitting on someone’s grave. I’d actually heard of guys getting buried with their wheels.

A biker’s ride was an extension of his body. I knew the feeling. I had a ride myself.

So whatever else we knew about the vic, he’d clearly pissed someone off. Not just a little either. He’d pissed them off a lot.

I walked the perimeter, circling inward towards the crime scene. It was dark in the back, but my eyes were sharp. I used a flashlight intermittently, turning it on and off to see what the light revealed, as well as the dark.

I spotted an area that looked like a body might have been dragged and a spreading pool that looked like motor oil, or more likely, blood. I whistled and got forensics to photograph the area and mark it off until samples could be taken.

Only then did I look at the body.

He was on his back, his blank eyes staring up at the sky. His throat had been cut. But that wasn’t all that had been done to him.

No, they’d cut his tongue out too. After the fact. You could tell that without forensics, because there should have been more blood.

As it was, he was positively clean looking. I had a feeling all his blood was back in the parking lot. It was not a pleasant way to go, never mind what they’d done to his bike.

All of that took time. Not just five minutes either. Ten or twenty. I started to mentally clock it all out in my head.

Who the hell would stick around a crime scene to mutilate a body and then set fire to the victim’s ride? Someone who wasn’t afraid of the law, that was for sure.

Someone batshit fucking crazy.

And I had a good fucking idea of who that might be.

I went inside and took a look around. The bar was nearly empty. They must have been closing up when the bike went up in flames. Everyone had taken off after that.

Everyone but the staff.

I saw Mason with his hand resting possessively on a girl’s shoulder. She sat at the bar, her arms wrapped around her protectively. I could only see her profile but even that was enough to stop me in my tracks.

All thoughts of murder flew from my head.

The girl was beautiful.

Not just a little bit pretty, or cute, or even sexy. She was fucking gorgeous. With long, wavy, light brown hair, and a delicate profile with a nose that was just the slightest bit turned upwards. Her figure looked slim and athletic, but with curves in all the right places.

She turned to look at me and my breath stopped. My heart seemed to pause, waiting for my mind to catch up with my eyeballs, which felt like they were bugging out of my damn head.

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