|What does it
mean to love someone? This is a question Bud had asked
himself since the day he'd met Lonnie Brannigan and he'd yet to put his
finger on the answer. He wanted to keep her safe but she challenged him
continuously. He wanted to protect her but did she need that from him?
Not by her reckoning. Spending the rest of his life with her suited him
for now but did his definition of a husband have some other meaning then
Merriam-Webster's unabridged? Maybe he was just looking for a permanent
fuck buddy who'd fix his breakfast and bring him his slippers.
Thoughts he'd dare not share coursed through his mind as he watched her put on a coat of Max Factor. She has to look the part of a kept woman who needed a little house slave, one whose husband would do anything to keep her from breaking a nail scouring the sink. The dress they got off the vast rack of clothes down in the property room fit her like it was made for her and he got visions of Marilyn Monroe from her scenes in Niagara. Rose Loomis, the one where she plotted to murder her husband, fucks sake.
"How do I look?"
Her voice was all wrong. It wasn't Lonnie, it was some bimbo who just needed to be fucked.
"Hey, Bud. How do I look?"
He had this odd look on his face. Maybe he forgot himself for the moment he fisted his hand in her hair and pulled her mouth to his for a kiss. It was a hard cold kiss and she pulled away from it. Bud wiped his mouth on his sleeve.
"You look fine. Put some more of that red stuff on your mouth."
She'd learned to deal with some of his idiosyncrasies and this was probably his way of him dealing with her right now by her reckoning. Lonnie moved away to reapply the lipstick but she managed to take a sideways glance or two at him.
A different voice broke in. "Ready?"
She was snapped from her revelry to face Thomas.
"Let's do it to it. We're set up to meet the travel agent at noon in a cafe down off of LaBrea. It gives us forty five minutes to get there." He patted his chest and grinned. "Good thing you're not wearing this wire. It would stick out through that pretty blue dress like a sore thumb."
"I know. It's hard for me to feel comfortable in this but I'll be fine." She took a couple of deep breaths and convinced herself to relax.
Bud gave her one more look before he took his team to set up the perimeter. He started to walk out but he stopped and went back. "Lonnie, you take care out there. I'll be watching you. Just...take care."
"I'll be fine, baby. Hey, I love you."
"Yeah, me too."
Thomas and Lonnie were using the names Mr.and Mrs. Albert Manchester. They'd made the appointment using the information given to them by Brodie with the need for a house slave and they were willing to pay dearly for it. Motor had a late model Mercedes with tags fabricated under Albert Manchester's name all ready for them and once they got word that the team was in place, they started their ruse.
Albert Manchester pulled up in front of the Starland Cafe. He parked the car and got out, winding his way around the front to help his lovely fragile wife from her seat. As he opened the door she placed a foot on the pavement, dropped a cigarette butt down and crushed it out with her black strappy Jimmy Choo spike. She took his hand and smiled at him as he lifted her out of the car. Placing a kiss on his cheek, she uttered a sincere "Thank you, darling," for effect as she took his arm.
The couple was met by a tall blonde businessman in a crème colored silk suit. He had steel blue eyes and a perfectly straight nose that complimented his oddly handsome symmetrical face.
"Mr. and Mrs. Manchester? I'm Dag Nordstrom. Your secretary talked to me. I have a table ready for us. Please come this way."
"Yes. I'm Manchester." Thomas extended his hand and the two men exchanged a quick grasp. "This is my wife, Marlene."
"Delighted to meet you both. You look lovely today, Mrs. Manchester." Nordstrom played the game.
Lonnie didn't remember anyone telling her that her name would be Marlene but she didn't miss a beat. "Thank you, Mr. Nordstrom. I would assume that our assistant explained everything?"
"Yes." He replied as he pulled a chair out for her. He seated her and waited for her husband to sit down before he did the same.
"Let's get down to business. I understand congratulations are in order for you. Having a child is a wonderful experience but you'll be needing help around the house. I have a few suggestions for you."
Across the street, perched on a roof, Bud White and two other detectives watched the entire conversation as it took place in the small outdoor cafe. He was in constant contact with the crew who were listening and recording every word exchanged there. He glanced down at the red splotch on his sleeve for just a moment and when he looked back up he realized why it was a bad idea to be involved with one of the cops you work with. Lonnie was gone.
"Where'd she go?" He rasped into his mic. "Where'd she go god damn it? Where's Brannigan?"
"Relax, chief. She went to the can." The reply came as soon as the radio operator could get a word in edgewise.
Bud fixed his eyes on Thomas and the man in the tan suit. They were leaning closer together, having a more private conversation. It must have had something to do with Lonnie's departure.
"Mister Manchester, now that your beautiful wife is in a family way ...things could get a little bit ...lonely at home if you understand my meaning. I could provide you with a housekeeper who could perform a sort of double duty. She could take care of your needs as well as your wife's. Something young, supple, maybe thirteen or fourteen years old, all ready for you to break in."
It wasn't easy for Thomas to hide the sick that crept up into his throat but he had to and he did a stellar job. Cocking a brow he plastered a lecherous smile across his face. "I'd pay extra for that. When do we get to look at the merchandise?"
Both men sat back as Mrs. Manchester returned to the table. Nordstrom stood and waited for her to sit before he did the same. "We were just discussing the fact that perhaps a teenaged servant would suit you best, Mrs. Manchester. One you wouldn't have to break in as much as an eight or nine year old. In your delicate condition you'll need to put your servant to work directly." He took her hand and kissed the back of it. "I see he cares for you very dearly and he wouldn't want anything to happen to you."
She smiled and looked at her pseudo husband suddenly feeling a bit nervous. "How kind."
"Would any man treat one so delicate and lovely with any less care?"
She felt Thomas take her hand and squeeze it tight. He knew it too. They'd been made somehow. Had he spotted one of the SRT team? Nordstrom was pouring in on as thick as molasses in winter.
"You're very charming, Mr. Nordstrom. Now, if we could get on with our business arrangements, I've got some other things to attend to."
He smiled in a way that actually changed his scent. "Don't get up, don't even flinch. If you make a single move a high speed projectile will shatter Mrs. Manchester's head faster than you can blink and if your friends who are watching us right now do anything to stop us, I'll kill you both. Is that clear?"
Bud lowered the binoculars he was using. He wasn't sure he heard the radio correctly.
"Copy , chief. They've been made. What would you like us to do?"
Before he answered Nordstrom stood and grabbed Lonnie. He turned her around using her as a shield. Thomas threw his hands up in defeat, knowing if he made a move she'd be shot.
"Easy, Nordstrom. This doesn't have to go down like this." Thomas breathed through his teeth. He knew the SRT team was around them but he had no idea what kind of firepower Dag Nordstrom had for backup.
"Chief, it's your call," the voice on the radio was frantic but there was no one on the other end.
Bud White was already on the ground floor of the building. He
burst through the double doors of the building and strode out into the
street with a shotgun in one hand. He was figuratively swinging his cock
in the other.
In a house just outside of LA a veteran officer woke from his
sleep after hearing his wife call out.
"Our reporter in the field tells us that one officer is confirmed dead in this standoff situation in West Hollywood. We'll have further reports as they are made available. This is Chopper 4 reporting live from the scene ...."