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First pages

Chapter 1

 

21st March 2011

 

Monday morning was a dark and dreary day for Craig Deeks. The effect that the weather had on him, hadn’t been helped by the constant arguing of his two teen aged children, who were running late for school by the time they finally decided to get their uniforms on and pack their bags.

Then, his car wouldn’t start, so he’d had to catch a lift into the city from his wife, who of course had to drop the two bickering children off at school first. Traffic was a bastard, caught in the peak hour rush to work. Craig was only thankful that Julia worked in the city, or else he’d have had to call his partner to pick him up, which would have meant letting Tallulah drive all day.

He hated the way the younger woman drove. He often wondered just who it was that had taught her to drive in the first place and then who had agreed to give her a licence. Not that in a high speed chase her crazy driving skills weren’t useful, in fact they were brilliant. In a high-speed chase.

As he walked into the squad room, sans coffee because the coffee cart outside the building had been absent due to the rain he felt the air chill when the three people already there glanced up at him. There should have been four.

You and Lu catch an early lead?” William Cho asked.

Craig shook his head,No, I haven’t spoken to Lu since she called me Saturday. And she closed her open case files,” He said as he made his way to his desk to put his coffee down. He placed his laptop bag beside it, then hung his jacket over the back of his chair. “You mean Lu’s not here yet?”

Suzie Ashimov pointed to the empty desk. “No laptop, no coat, no, well anything. She hasn’t been in.”

I’ve been here since six. No sign of her this morning,” their uniformed staff sergeant, Liam O’Donnell said.

Craig sat behind his desk and stared across at his partner’s. In the five years that they’d been working together, she’d always been there before him. An effort to impress him in her training days had turned into habit and now it was just the way things were. Craig would show up in the morning, two coffees in hand and she would be there, with a list of things that they needed to get done that day as well as a head start on any paperwork that needed doing. It worked well for them, and Lu didn’t feel guilty for leaving early on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Still staring at the untouched desk, Craig pulled his mobile out and hit speed dial. “You’ve reached Tallulah Price. I can’t come to the phone right now. Leave a message after the beep and I’ll get back to you ASAP.”

The others watched him expectantly.

He shrugged. “No answer,” he said to them, then into the phone he said. “Lu, it’s Craig. Just wondering where you are. I’m at work and you’re not... Call me.” He dropped the phone onto his desk and looked up when their Sergeant walked out of his office. “Sarge?” he asked. “You seen Lu?”

Charles Seymour glanced at his squad’s desks. All were occupied save for one. He then, in turn glanced at each of his people. “No. Should I have?”

She’s not answering her phone and she isn’t here,” O’Donnell said.

Seymour stepped closer to the young Detective’s impeccably neat desk. Craig had often teased her about her near obsessive-compulsive need for cleanliness of her desk. Mostly because his own desk was such a disaster. Files stacked high, no order to them, post it notes on his computer and the small divider between the two desks, along with family photos and a multitude of other things that he’d assured her he needed. Her desk was almost spartan. Pens were collected in a small holder, a few post it notes were lined up neatly on the divider, while two case files sat in the in-box holder, obviously having come in that morning, a photo of Molly, Lu’s cat and small snow globe with a white swan.

Anyone know her plans for the weekend?” Seymour asked.

Lu left Friday night for Sydney. She was meeting with a friend,” Craig explained. “She told me she was flying back yesterday when I spoke to her Saturday.”

Ashimov’s phone rang and she spoke in low, clipped tones to the caller. “We gotta go,” she said, getting up and grabbing her jacket. Cho followed suite. “Let us know what happens, yeah?” With that, the partners headed out of the squad room.

Seymour looked at Lu’s chair then at Craig. “Deeks, it’s not as though she doesn’t deserve a day off.”

Craig nodded in agreement. “I know that.”

Go by her place tonight if we don’t hear anything. I’ll,” Seymour paused. “I’ll hold back on reporting her to the Superintendent until tomorrow.”

 

The day had proceeded slowly, Craig had gone over the two case files in Lu’s inbox but they had proved both to be insignificant and already handled by uniforms. His paperwork for the week before was complete and he had no active cases to occupy himself with, had lead to boredom. It was weird, as though the universe was conspiring against him to ensure that all he could think about was the whereabouts of his partner. A bored detective with nothing to do was dangerous to one’s sanity. He’d run a few checks for Ashimov and Cho, but it was still desk work, desk work that he usually gave to his partner, to prevent having to do it himself.

As the lunch hour approached, he once again called his partner’s cell phone. He was hit again by the pre-recorded message for her message bank. “You’ve reached Tallulah Price. I can’t come to the phone right now. Leave a message after the beep and I’ll get back to you ASAP.”

He huffed, somewhat inclined to just snap the phone shut and pretend he’d never called. Instead he left a message. “Tallulah, where are you? Seymour’s going to have to report you up the command chain if you don’t get your butt into work,” he sighed. “Come on Lu, pick up.” Not getting an answer to his request, he snapped the phone shut and dropped it onto his desk. He looked around. The squad room was mostly empty. Cho and Asimov were still out in the field, O’Donnell had gone for lunch, and the few people actually in the office were gravitating towards the small kitchenette and break room that serviced their floor.

He got up from his desk and walked around to Tallulah’s. He glanced behind him, making sure that Seymour wasn’t watching. He was in luck; the Senior Sergeant wasn’t in his office. Craig slid into the chair and frowned. She had a nicer chair than him. For starters, it swivelled better and moved across the squad room’s linoleum floor far smoother than his own did. That wasn’t to mention the fact that hers was far more comfortable than his, with a plush cushioned base and back support that his own surely didn’t have. “Who did you bribe to get this chair?” he asked out loud as if the younger woman was there. Whoever it was, he’d need to discover her secret and get a similar or, hell who wanted similar, he was the senior partner in their team. He wanted a better chair.

Deciding to remain in the chair as long as he could, he powered up her desk computer. He waited as the familiar Windows logo hovered there as it loaded. When it cleared, he was met with a password security window. It wasn’t surprising, they often had suspects, witnesses or victims up on their floor and sometimes, they were given a seat near their desks. It was a security measure, that he, himself took, as did Cho, Ashimov, the Sarge and every other self-respected Detective. The user name was obvious, TPrice. He sat there, staring at the screen. He couldn’t think of what his partner would use as her password. He tried Molly, the name of her cat. Nothing.

His partner had always been a walking bag of secrets, he’d accepted that as part of her Undercover Training. Always keep everything to yourself and all, but now he felt like less of a partner. How could he not know what she would use as a password. They’d been partners for five years, she spent Christmas with them and was always included in his children’s birthday celebrations, even if he couldn’t convince her to let him throw a party for her own birthday. She was part of the family and yet he couldn’t think of one thing other than her beloved cat that she would use as a password. He tried her birthday but was hit with a wrong password message again.

The doors to the squad room slid open as O’Donnell walked back in, sandwich in one hand, coffee mug in the other. Craig hit the power button on the computer and pushed the chair back from the desk. But he under estimated just how smoothly the wheels on the chair moved compared to his own and went flying backwards towards Cho’s desk, right behind him. O’Donnell looked up from his sandwich and eyed the Detective curiously. “You ok there?”

Uh?” Craig started as he stood up from the chair and pushed it back into place. “Yeah, yeah, I was just looking for a file.”

Detective Price filed all closed case files in the filing cabinets before she left on Friday,” O’Donnell said and pointed towards the back of the squad room where a wall of filing cabinets stood, waiting to be emptied by records.

Craig nodded sheepishly. “Of course, she did. My bad.”

The Staff Sergeant put his lunch down on his desk and walked over to Craig, who had returned to his own desk in the meantime and tried to appear busy. “Aren’t you going to look for that file, Sir?”

Craig looked up at the large uniformed man. “Uh, no. I think I remembered what it was that I wanted to check. I’ll be fine.”

O’Donnell nodded. “If you say so Detective,” he turned away and walked towards his own desk to eat his lunch. “Oh, what case was it?”

Craig glared at the man. He really didn’t know when to stop. “Liam, leave it alone please.”

Ok, sure. I won’t tell anyone that you were snooping around Tallulah’s desk.”

 

The day moved even slower after that, O’Donnell found every possible chance to allude to Craig’s search of his partner’s desk, which had caught the attention of the other two Detectives in their little Unit. Suzie Ashimov glanced at Craig. “No good looking into your partner’s stuff.”

Oh, shut it,” he grumbled. His mood had darkened without his partner. He’d been annoyed by the annoyingly perky personality of his partner in their first year together, but it had grown on him. She could, for whatever reason, always find a reason to smile. She always saw the best in people, maybe that was because they didn’t work hard core homicide cases, but crimes involving the rich and famous. Robberies of large amounts, kidnappings of high significance. Cases with annoying witnesses and even more annoying victims. Cases that were often dictated to be victimless crimes.

As the clock neared five Craig stood and made his way to Seymour’s office. He knocked on the open door before stepping in. “Sarge?”

Seymour looked up. “Nothing Deeks. I’d have told you if she’d called.”

Jules and I will go by her place on our way home,” Craig said. “It’s unlike her not to at least call.”

Seymour nodded. “I know Craig. I know. Look, I’ve held back today, but tomorrow, I won’t have a choice but to report her absence to Superintendent Belmore.”

Craig leaned against the door jam and hung his head. “There’s no way to hold off?” he asked.

Seymour shook his head. “None that won’t get us into trouble... And Craig, if she doesn’t have a bloody good excuse if she shows up tomorrow, I’ll still have to report her.”

I understand,” Craig said. “Goodnight sir.”

Night Craig. I hope you find something,” Seymour said.

After leaving the Sergeant’s office, Craig returned to his desk, he closed down the open files he’d been working on after shooting copies of them over to Cho and Ashimov, since it was their case he’d been working on. Then he powered down the computer. He glanced at the mess of papers on his desk and half considered tidying up. No, that could wait until tomorrow.

He was just making sure he had everything, when the doors slid open and his wife walked in. She said hello to O’Donnell, Cho and Ashimov, listened to O’Donnell compliment her beauty and tried to convince her that he was a better choice then Craig. She laughed sweetly with the man, declined him and instead greeted her husband.

Hmm,” Craig said as he considered a way to show O’Donnell that his wife of eighteen years was in fact his and his alone. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close to him. “Good evening indeed my dear,” he whispered in her ear before kissing her for all the squad to see.

Damn, can’t win against that,” O’Donnell joked as Ashimov let out a heartfelt sigh and Cho ordered them to get a room.

Craig released his wife and picked up his belongings. “Exactly what I intend to do,” he said to Cho. He then wrapped his arm around her waist and started to lead Julia out of the squad room.

Wait,” she said. “I wanted to talk to Lu. Where is she?”

The other two Detectives glanced awkwardly at Deeks, and then at O’Donnell, but they didn’t say a word. Julia eyed the small group before turning her gaze on her husband. “What is it?” she asked.

Lu didn’t come in today,” he stated.

What?” Julia asked as if it wasn’t the most obscene thing she’d ever heard. “What do you mean. Oh, you mean she had court right? That can last all day.”

No, Julia,” Suzie Ashimov said. “Lu didn’t come in today. We can’t get a hold of her.”

Julia shook her head. “She wouldn’t. You know that...”

Come on,” Craig said, once again steering his wife towards the doors. “We’re going by her place, see if she’s there.”

Chapter 2

 

21st March 2011

 

Julia parked the car outside Tallulah’s apartment building and glanced at Craig. He was staring at the building. Tallulah Price’s apartment looked out over the road, so they could see the widows that made up the small apartment. The windows were dark.

Doesn’t look like anyone is home,” Julia said quietly.

Craig looked over at her. “Then where is she?”

Have you called her?”

Every damned hour,” Craig told her. “Voice mail every time. Cho tried twice, Ashimov a couple of times. The Sarge tried too. We all got zip.”

Together they looked back at the dark windows amid the illuminated ones. It wasn’t a large building. It was an old, three story Victorian style house that had been renovated a decade earlier into apartments. Tallulah had lived there for six years. It had been a pretty big find for a young cop still in uniform. Craig knew his partner had spent minimal time actually in uniform after her rookie tour.

Well, we going up?” Julia asked.

Yeah,” Craig opened the car door and stepped out. Julia followed suit and together they walked towards the main entrance. Craig handed her a set of keys with one picked out. “Go on up. You know which one. I’m going to check the lot.” Julia took the keys from him and headed into the front lobby while Craig headed to the garage.

The building had an underground parking garage for residents. Each resident had the option of adding a parking space to their rental agreement and that space was theirs for the term of their lease. Craig had been back to the apartment building enough times to know which space should have occupied Tallulah’s car.

He walked among the half-full parking garage. People were just returning home from work. He went straight to his partner’s parking space. No car. He glanced at the empty spot. Lu had been complaining for weeks that her car had a leak, yet she’d had no time to send it into the auto garage for repairs. There was staining in her spot from where the leak had dried up. There were no fresh leak stains from her car.

He stood there as a car drove past to locate their own space. He pulled his cell from his pocket and pressed speed dial four. One was Julia, two was his daughter Amy, three his son Sam and four his partner. He held the phone to his ears and waited.

You’ve reached Tallulah Price,” the pre-recorded message said into his ear. “I can’t come to the phone right now. Leave a message after the beep and I’ll get back to you ASAP.”

Craig was tempted to just hang up, he’d left several messages throughout the day already, with no response from her. “Lu.. It’s Craig. Again... Just wondering where the hell you are. Call me. ASAP.”

He pressed disconnect and shoved the phone into his pocket again. He ran a hand over his face as he tried to figure out where his partner was. He’d known her five years. She’d been assigned to a Narcotics Task force at the time. But as he thought about it. Five years of partnership hadn’t taught him all that much about her personally.

He turned away from the parking space and headed to the stairs which lead into the main building.

 

The apartment door was open when Craig made it up to Tallulah’s floor. He stepped into the place his partner called home and glanced around the living room. He saw his wife looking over the subtle furnishings that occupied the front room. The wall above a decorative fire place held a large water colour of a river market, like the ones seen in water front villages in parts of Asia. The room mirrored the major colours of the painting, the walls a subtle golden colour and the fabric a lively blue.

Julia was looking at a group of framed photos that hung on the wall by a large bookshelf full of books, crime novels, he noticed. He recognised names like James Patterson, J.D. Robb, Michael Connelly and Sue Grafton. There was some he didn't recognise too, like Katherine Howell and Kerry Greenwood. “Craig, that you?” Julia asked, not looking away from the pictures.

Yeah. What you looking at?” he asked coming over to stand by her.

These photos. They’re all taken here in Melbourne. These people are all cops. Except that girl,” Julia said pointing at a photo of a young, Craig guessed Italian, woman, about eighteen years old. Lu’s arms were around the girl as they smiled for the camera. The young woman held out a High School Graduation Certificate.

I don’t know who she is,” Craig said. There were a few other pictures of Lu with the same girl, one showed the girl younger, while the rest showed her older, and one, obviously on the campus of Monash University, the logo visible in the picture behind them.

They seem close,” Julia said. “And you always say that Lu doesn’t have any friends outside of the force.”

Craig stalked away from the photos. “For Christ’s sake Jules, how am I supposed to know? I booted up her computer at work today and I couldn’t think of one thing that she would use for her password. Nadda. We don’t know squat about Lu other than her professional history, most of which is under wraps due to it being UC work.”

Julia walked over to him and laid her hand on his shoulder. “I’ll grant you that she’s a very private person. She wouldn’t be the first with a past that she doesn’t want to share, and she won’t be the last. She’s also not the first cop to let her work consume her.”

Craig sighed. “You’re right... But then, we’re back at the question. Where the hell is she?”

I don’t know, why don’t you go check the other rooms. See if she came in to drop off her bags or something.”

He glanced towards the hall that lead towards the bedrooms and bathroom. Tallulah had managed to snag herself a two-bedroom apartment in St. Kilda. It wasn’t the best of buildings, due to its age, but the renovations have made it something special, and its location made it far from cheap, as did the size. “It won’t do any good. Her car hasn’t been in its spot all weekend.”

Julia raised her eyebrow at him. “I know you’re a good Detective dear, but how can you tell that without seeing the surveillance footage of the garage?”

Her car has an oil leak. She’s been complaining about it for weeks but hasn’t gotten it fixed yet. There’s no fresh oil stains,” he explained. “Her car hasn’t been here.”

Go and look anyway. It will make you feel better.”

Or worse,” he grumbled as trudged off down the hall. He stuck his head into the first room and got lucky. It was the bed room. He stepped in and glanced around the small space. A large queen-sized bed occupied most of the space, flanked by two bed side tables. They were all finished in a light blond wood that lit up the room. There was a window to the left side, and adjacent to it, a built-in wardrobe. Awkwardly he opened it and glanced in. Pant suits, a few matching skirts, jeans, trendy jackets and shirts, several formal dresses, workout clothes, leggings and tank tops. He frowned, a leotard. He couldn’t think why his practical partner would own a leotard, but she did. There were also two opaque garment bags, obviously occupied. Shoes occupied the bottom of the wardrobe. Boots, sneakers, heels to match the fancy dresses. In a box to the side were socks and, in another box,, strange slippers that he leaned in closer to get a look at. He recognised them, Ballet slippers. He also picked up a pair of worn out and practically destroyed pointe shoes. He also noticed a gym bag, half open, drink bottle, change of clothes, and a newer pair of pointe shoes, not as worn out as the ones in his hands.

Anything?” Julia asked, walking in.

Craig dropped the shoes back into the box and turned to his wife. “Nothing that indicates that she’s been back.”

Julia walked over to the bed. “Craig!”

Craig whipped his head around at the startled sound of his wife’s voice. He walked over to her and glanced down at the bed cover and what was laying on it. “Oh god...” Without thinking about it, he took out his phone and dialled the Sarge. “Charles,” he said, using the Sergeant’s first name. “It’s Craig. I’m at Lu’s... It’s not good.”

 

 

Charles Seymour stood beside Craig and Julia Deeks as they stared at the bed. He shook his head in disbelief. He glanced at Craig, who’s face showed the same disbelief he was feeling, but he also saw the distress. He knew that Craig and Tallulah were close. Not in a romantic way, Craig was far too in love with his wife for that and Tallulah was friends with the entire family. No, what he had always seen between them was more like a father and daughter relationship.

Craig reached out to the first and most heart-breaking item that lay on the bed. Tallulah Price’s shield. The one thing they all thought she would never give up or walk away from. Picking it up, he ran his thumb over the embossed surface. “Something's wrong Charles.”

The Senior Sergeant looked at the rest of the items on the bed. A mobile phone which they’d discovered cleared of all data and a necklace that had been a permanent feature around the young Detective’s neck for as long as they’d all known her.

Julia picked it up. “Tallulah might have left her badge, but she would not have left this. That I know.”

How?” Craig asked, looking towards his wife.

Julia took a deep breath and looked at the two men. “It was her mother’s. It’s been her’s since she was ten. The chain has broken over the years and she’s replaced it, but the pendant, this little pearl was apparently her father’s gift to her mother when she was born. Pearl is Tallulah’s birthstone.” Craig stared at his wife. It was a fact he had not known about his partner. “What? I talk to her... Well, in actual fact I caught her at the store when looking for Amy’s sixteenth birthday present. She was there getting the chain fixed. What I’m saying is, that Lu wouldn’t leave this. It means the world to her.”

Seymour took Tallulah’s badge from Craig. “Her badge is here, but her ID wallet isn’t, nor her ID badge.”

What’s that mean?” Craig asked.

Charles shrugged. “I don’t know.”

They put the badge and necklace back on the bed and walked out to the living room. The light on the answering machine was blinking. Craig pressed play.

The first message was from him. “Lu, wakey, wakey. You’re supposed to be at work. Why aren’t you picking up your cell?”

The second, that had come in around lunch time was from a woman. “Lu, where are you? You’re not picking up your phone. I mean, I guess you could be in interrogation, but not so much as an SMS. You haven’t stood me up since you made Detective. Fine, don’t answer, I’ll have lunch all by myself. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

There was a message from the Sarge, from Cho and Ashimov. Even O’Donnell had called. Another message caught them off guard. “Tallulah,” the woman’s voice was significantly older than the other woman’s voice. “Why aren’t you answering your cell? Oh well, you’re probably busy at work. So, I hope you get this when you get home. When you come in tomorrow we need to talk. Henry Paulson is pulling his donation. What did you say to him? Try to make it before class so that we can talk about this.”

They looked at each other. The last message had them even more perplexed then the mysterious young woman who’d had a lunch date with Tallulah. Henry Paulson was philanthropist who donated to various charities. He was very particular about who he worked with. And what class?

Anyone got any idea?” Seymour asked.

I... I found ballet shoes in Lu’s wardrobe. Recently used...” Craig explained. “I mean, I don’t really know, but maybe she takes classes.”

I recognised that voice,” Julia replied. “I can’t quite place where from though.”

Where’s the cat?” Seymour asked glancing around the apartment.

The cat?” Craig asked.

Yeah, you know, the one pictured on her desk,” Seymour said.

Craig sighed, then chuckled, slightly embarrassed. “Oh, Molly. She’s with a neighbour.”

Seymour did a three-sixty turn on the spot as he glanced around the living room. “We’ve done enough digging into Tallulah’s private life for tonight. We don’t know that there’s anything wrong. All we know... Is nothing. If we don’t hear anything by the end of work tomorrow, we’ll start looking for her as a missing person. Our first leads being the person she went to see in Sydney and the two women on the phone.”

Chapter 3

 

23nd March 2011

 

Sitting at his desk by the large window wall that looked out into the hall, Craig stared at the empty desk across from him. The three desk set up that they all used allowed partners to bring in and effectively work with Detectives from other units, without giving up their own desk space. Cho and Ashimov sat at their desks, just in front of the Sarge’s office. He and Tallulah had always joked that it was because Sergeant Seymour needed to keep a closer eye on them, but it was just where they’d been assigned.

He glanced over at O’Donnell, who’s desk faced the doors to their squad room. He was working intently on his computer. Beyond him, the other Detectives of the Major Case Unit were talking on phones, working on paper work or talking to their Sergeant, her office on the other side of the break room.

Cho slid his chair over and leaned against Tallulah’s empty desk. “Craig? What’s happening with Lu?”

Craig shook his head and shrugged. “Seymour put her on report last night, but today, today we’re allowed to start looking! I can’t believe I let Seymour convince me to wait!”

Cho raised a disbelieving eyebrow at the older Detective. “You seriously waited for today and haven’t done anything?”

Deeks hung his head, “No...” He held up a notepad with a list on it. The same kind of list his partner usually created. People they needed to track down and talk to and places to visit Cho reached over the divider between the two desk and took the list from Craig.

“Suzie and I’ll do the research ones. Track down the girl in the photos and the two women from her message bank. You talk to the cops from her old unit. I’ll also call the New South Wales Police, see if they can find her on their end. I got a cousin that works up that way,” he offered.

Craig nodded. “Great, thanks.” He rolled his chair back and stood. “I’ve got to track some of these people down.”

Cho rolled back towards his own desk and leaned in to talk to his partner. Craig saw her nod, glance over Cho’s head and nod to him. With that, they all turned to their work. Craig used his computer to search for his partner’s former commanding officer. Superintendent Daniel Mitchem had retired after his task force had disbanded. He now owned a bar, frequented by the cops in the St. Kilda area. It was close to where both he and Tallulah lived, but he’d never been there. Craig made a note to drop by the bar for a chat. He looked up Tallulah’s former partner next. Former Sergeant Hannah Fleate, was now Superintendent of the Evidence Warehouse. He called her, knowing what a pain in the ass the clerks at the warehouse could be. He informed the woman that he needed to speak to her regarding one of her old Undercover officers. She told him to come right on down to the warehouse when he could. He told her he’d be by later that day. Mitchem and Fleate would be able to tell him who else from the unit he should speak to.

Before them, Tallulah’s partner had been her Training Officer, he pulled her record and let out a low whistle. She’d had three training officers. He did a search for the first Grant Webster had been fired for Sexual Harassment, Abuse of Power and assault. There had been a full OPI investigation into the man’s conduct. The complainant had been his Rookie, Tallulah Price. Female officers who’d been harassed by Webster had thought her a hero, but that hadn’t avoided the mentality of naming her a rat. It had taken her almost her entire Rookie tour to get over the name. Namely after Grant Webster was arrested as a civilian for murder of a man he’d previously assaulted while in uniform. He was now serving twenty-five to life in solitary, for his own protection, at Loddon Prison. Craig put him on the list as a possible hostile towards his partner, though, if she had been physically harmed, Webster would have needed someone else to do it for him.

Her second partner had been with her for eighteen months. Lauren Reed had been a decorated officer before her death in a shootout five months before Tallulah had come off her Probationary status. It had been no one’s fault but the perps. The third training partner to work with Price, but by that time she’d been considered a curse to work with, had been Luke Remigio, who was still doing patrol out of their old unit in Glen Waverley and training rookies. Craig would make sure to talk with him as well.

Craig started to get up, but Suzie Ashimov waved him over to her desk. He walked over and leaned over her. Her screen held the phone records for Lu’s house phone, apparently, the Sarge had already gone through the rigmarole it took to get phone records. “Cho’s got her mobile records,” she told him. “Here, the older woman is Dorris Preston. She’s the Director of the Melbourne campus of The Kerrigan School.”

“What kind of school is it?” He asked. The name nagged at him.

“Music and Dance,” she said. “The Kerrigan Group is a charity organisation that-”

Craig cut her off. “Teaches Music and Dance to under privileged kids. Yeah, I’ve heard of it. Julia dragged me to their last performance. I gotta admit. It was kinda cool.”

She nodded. “Yeah, yeah, but get this. I called Preston, apparently, our Lu is one of their teachers and on the Board of Directors for the Melbourne branch. She’s expecting you to come by today,” Craig nodded in understanding. The message from Tallulah’s answering machine going over in his mind. The donation that had fallen through, the class that Tallulah was supposed to come in early for. She wasn’t taking a class, she was teaching a class and he would bet it was Ballet, but only because he’d found the shoes. “It’s the young woman who concerns me Craig.”

“Oh?” he asked.

“Yeah, I traced the number to a Maria Moretti, otherwise known as Maria Scarlotti, daughter of Antonio Scarlotti, the big mafia head.”

He breathed in deep. “You sure?”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Anja is from Melbourne Australia. An avid reader of crime, science fiction and fantasy fictions, she endeavors to bring her own voice to these worlds. Being published as been a long time dream and now, with her first completed novel it is time to enter the fray.

Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
This series will follow Lu Price’s return to Melbourne from Sydney and her attempts to navigate her professional and personal lives in the aftermath of her undercover assignment.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.
I think the thing I love most about Crime fiction is the freedom of it. Anyone can investigate, the story can take place anywhere or even anywhen. It can be used to convey any message, while gripping the reader in a mystery that they need to solve.