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Vice by Teagan Kade (1)


CHAPTER ONE

GRACE

“Unless you want a second mouth, my friend, you’re going to stop the fuck right there.”

The alley’s a dead end. Clearly, this perp ain’t a local.

I keep my weapon trained on him, free hand moving to my cuffs. “Hands up. Now!” I bark.

He becomes clearer as I approach. Guy’s rockin’ a lumberjack beard with a slick-back. Hipster handbag thieves—only in the Big Apple.

“Turn around.”

He’s watching me carefully as he does it. I kick his legs apart pissed I’m missing my date thanks to this petty crime pretty boy.

Why don’t you date him? my head suggests.

Fat fucking chance, though I have dated worse. They all scroll through my head—shadowy men of many faces soon forgotten after the first lay.

I’m about to slap the cuffs on—my favorite part—when Pretty Boy decides to have a go, spinning around and swinging for my head. He doesn’t know I’m a Shodan in aikido. It’s a defensive martial art first and foremost, but damn it, this guy’s messing up my night off, and that is making me hella mad.

I dodge and crouch left, shifting my weight and driving my elbow hard into his balls. Pretty Boy goes down like an East 20s hooker. I make sure I get my piece right up between his shoulder blades, straddling him and almost wishing he was the other way around—naked, hard.

He finds his voice still trying to cough up his balls. “You’re a fucking bitch!”

I snap the cuffs into position and haul him up. “New York’s finest.”

*

Bobby wolf-whistles when I walk into the station. “And here I was thinking you had a dick.”

I grab my crotch. “Maybe I do, Denton.”

He rounds on me. “Seriously, Siddell, you scrub up well.”

Damn cherry peplum cost me a week’s wages, but yeah, I do look good.

Bobby turns his attention to Pretty Boy. “You two on a date? Doesn’t look like your type, Siddell.”

I heave the perp over, almost taking out Bobby in the process. “Prick put a dent in my date plans when he decided to go bag shopping on Fifth.”

“I thought you were off duty.”

I motion to my outfit. “Does it look like I’m on duty, asshat?”

Bobby raises an eyebrow. “You’re telling me you take handcuffs and a gun to your dates?”

“I do.” I shrug, winking. “One for business, one for pleasure.”

Bobby shakes his head. “You’re a wild one, Siddell.” He looks the hipster up and down, no doubt irritated I just added an extra hour of paperwork to his shift. “Thanks… I guess.”

“You’re welcome.” I smile, the frosted lipstick I’m wearing the same consistency as glue.

I thought about it once—Bobby, that is, but the Italian thing’s too much. One minute we’d be dating and the next I’d be making meatballs with his nonna. Nah, he needs a good, homely woman, not an ass-kicker like me.

I turn to leave, running through the five-odd missed calls from my Tinder date… and one from… Rachel?

I stop in my tracks. It’s been years since we spoke. Why would she be calling me now?

I go to slip my phone away, but I’m too curious. Call it a professional inquisitiveness.

I call her. The line clicks over. “Rachel,” I start. “Long time no speak. What’s new?”

It sounds like she’s stuck inside a jackhammer. “Grace? Oh, Jesus. Thank you. He’s trying to break the door down. I didn’t know who else to call.”

Poor thing’s hysterical. My training kicks in. “It’s alright. Tell me what’s going on.”

I hear a male voice: “Open the fucking door, Rachel!”

“Who was that?” I ask.

“My boyfriend,” she replies, her voice breaking on the ‘end.’

Rachel could always pick ’em, even back at school. She once dated a tweaker named Luxe who damn near knocked her head off.

I can’t turn my back on someone in distress. Maybe it’s my upbringing or just a dogged determination to do the right thing, but the date’s forgotten. I’ve got a suitable replacement in my bedroom drawer, and he only needs double AAs. “Where you are?”

Rachel rushes out an address.

I put it to memory. “Lower Manhattan? Okay, stay put and don’t let him in. I’ll be there in five.”

I hang up. “Bobby,” I shout, “give me your keys.”

*

I pull up out front of the apartment address and sound the horn, anything to get this guy’s attention away from Rachel.

No one emerges.

I run up the stairs, ready to kick the door down but soon realizing it’s already open. I move in, hearing the mystery boyfriend cussing and yelling away down the back.

It’s a real mess in here. There’s broken glass on the floor, furniture all smashed up. Seems Rachel’s boyfriend’s really gone full tilt on her tonight.

I drop my bag by the door, take out my piece. “Police!”

That shuts him up.

I face down the hall and find him pacing. Guy’s built like a sasquatch.

He looks at me, fists bloody from pounding at the door. He smells like wet cardboard, booze. “You’re not a fucking cop,” he grins.

I hold the gun up higher. “No? Try me.”

He starts to walk towards me, a smug smile on his face. “You’re not going to pull that trigger, baby. No. Fucking. Way.”

I point to his leg. “One knee cap or two? You don’t need them both. Your call, Bigfoot.”

Really, the last thing I want to do is shoot him—the reports, the investigation… It’s too much damn effort.

He pouts his lips, blowing a kiss, and I want to puke up all over the floor. “You’re real pretty for a cop.”

“Rachel?” I shout.

“I’m okay,” comes her shaky reply from behind the door.

“I’m just going to take out the trash,” I tell her. “Won’t be a moment.”

I switch on the safety and stuff my piece down the back of my underwear. “Okay, asshole. What’s your name?”

“Chris,” he replies, continuing to walk my way. That’s it. Keep coming.

“Been drinking, Chris?”

“What’s it to you?”

“Doesn’t sound like you’re being much of a gentleman to your girlfriend there.”

I could make for Bobby’s car, call back-up, but nah. I want some kind of action tonight.

Pretty Boy didn’t get me off.

‘Chris’ is still smiling. “Oh, I’m going to enjoy fucking with you.”

“We’ll see about that.”

When he’s close enough I drop and sweep out his legs. He’s definitely drunk, doesn’t see it coming, smashing into the wall with his head on his way down. It could become the next viral sensation if someone was filming, America’s Funniest Home Videos, perhaps.

I walk over him, make sure I dig the heel of the slingback I’m wearing right into his back. “Stay down. I’ll be right back.”

I used my personal cuffs on that damn hipster, not that Chris here is going anywhere soon after a fall like that. He’ll cry police brutality.

Let him.

I come up to the door. “Rachel, it’s me, Grace. Can you open the door?”

‘Rabbit caught in headlights’ doesn’t do her justice. She looks scared out of her wits—pale, pasty, one eye ringed with bit too much mascara. She collapses into me, dinner-plate eyes overflowing. “Grace, I’m so sorry.”

I bring her head against my chest. “It’s okay. You did the right thing. Are you hurt?”

“No,” comes the whimper.

She looks like she’s aged a decade, nothing like the fun-loving bestie I knew at school with flowers in her hair and jeans two sizes too small.

She peers around me. “What happened to Chris?”

I hold her back, look at her in the eyes. “He’s having a rest,” I reply simply. “I can’t really take him in, I’m afraid. He’d be out in an hour. Is there somewhere you can stay?”

She shakes her head.

I don’t even need to think about it. I had enough of this shit growing up to know she’s as good as dead if she hangs around here for much longer. “Stay at my place, for a day or two.”

“I can’t.”

“You’d prefer to stay here and lose your teeth? Your life? Come on. Quit the bullshit.”

“But it’s been years.”

I check on Prince Charming, but he’s still out cold. “I know, and like I said, you made the right call contacting me. I’m going to look after you. It’ll be like old times, a sleepover, right?”

A smile starts to form, almost imperceptible. “A sleepover?”

“Sure,” I continue, “but with a good red instead of Coke and Magic Mike instead of Mulan.”

She lets go of me. I get the feeling there’s something she wants to tell me, but she’s drawing in, drawing away, caught in limbo. “I can’t. I’m sorry.”

“Come with me,” I insist. “You’re not safe here.”

She looks down. “I just can’t.”

I’ve seen that look before, remember it well. Nothing’s going to change her mind.

I lean against the doorframe. It’s been a long-ass day dealing with the dirty scum of New York City. I breathe out before giving her my final remarks. “Understand what I’m saying. I can drag him down to the cruiser, dump him downtown, but I can’t stop him coming back here. That means that once I’m gone you lock the door, you hear me?”

She nods.

I take her by the shoulders. “I’m serious, Rachel. Lock the door and don’t let anyone in, and lose this asshole, honestly. You don’t deserve this shit.”

“Okay.” It’s not exactly the most reassuring reply, but there’s nothing else I can do but check in tomorrow and keep an eye on Fuckface.

“Wait here while I deal with the world’s best boyfriend,” I tell her.

She nods again, arms crossed over her chest.

I come back into the hall, but Chris is nowhere to be seen.

Fuck.

I race out onto the street, scan left and right, but it’s dark, full of corners and cat holes to disappear into.

He’s gone.

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