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Rival gangs will stop at nothing to gain sole control of the drug trade in Muskingum County and they’ve picked Valentine’s week to create a firestorm of murder and mayhem as they battle each other for supremacy.Sheriff Mel Crane is blindsided by looting, murdering and marauding bikers at a time of year when most Harley’s are tucked safely away from the effects of Ohio winters that come rife with snow and ice. They’re rolling out, they’re out of control and she can’t stop them. On the home front, she’s feeling guilty about spending so much time working and hardly any time with Dana, especially when she knows Valentine’s Day is right around the corner…or so her mother-in-law keeps reminding her.Dana just wants Mel to be safe; she has her own problems to worry about. Her attempt at novel writing isn’t going as well as she hoped and she’s bored. She got a little taste of what it was like to be an investigator again and she misses it. What to do?This book is great together with Books 1-6 to get all of the Dana and Mel back story but it can also be read as a stand-alone mystery.
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Mad for Mel
The Morelville Mysteries – Book 7
Jug Run Press, USA
Copyright © 2016
All rights reserved: No part of this publication may be replicated, redistributed or given away in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without prior written consent of the author or the publisher except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages for review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are actual places used in an entirely fictitious manner and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, organizations, or persons, living or deceased, is entirely coincidental.
Chapter 1 – One Week
Chapter 2 – Dreaming
Chapter 3 – Breaking Loose
Chapter 4 – Warfare
Chapter 5 – Regroup
Chapter 6 – Replay
Chapter 7 – Do Over
Chapter 8 – Meddling Mothers
Chapter 9 – On Assignment
Chapter 10 – Tripped Up
Chapter 11 – Nabbed
Chapter 12 – Interrogation
Chapter 13 – Try, Try...
Chapter 14 – Boar’s Head
Chapter 15 – Tailed
Chapter 16 – SRT
Chapter 17 – Freaky Friday
Chapter 18 – The Big Day
Chapter 19 – Report
Chapter 20 – Come Together
Chapter 21 – Anointed
Chapter 22 – Date Night
About the Author
Check Anne Out on her blog, on Facebook or on Twitter:
Saturday Afternoon, February 7th
The Brietland Family Estate
“Look at you; you’re thirty something years old and you still dress like an outlaw biker!”
Warren Brietland stared at his granddaughter’s husband with open contempt. Victor Voll glared right back at the elder man, not giving an inch.
Brietland half turned in his looked at his granddaughter, “At least you had the decorum to show up here looking half decent.”
Erin Voll cracked her gum but otherwise remained silent. She wasn’t sure why her grandfather wanted to see them, but she could see he was angry.
“Do you wanna tell me why we’re here?” Victor asked him.
“Don’t you dare be disrespectful to me,” Brietland directed him. “I’m getting to that.”
He paused and sipped carefully from the coffee cup on the desk before him. After setting the cup down, he looked at Erin and continued, “I told Christian I was against this marriage from go; you were too young for him and he was no good for you and, so far...what’s it been; three years now?” He waited for Erin’s affirming nod and then picked up where he left off, “I’ve been right. Oh, your father said you were ‘free, white and over eighteen’ and he couldn’t stop you but he damn well should have.”
Looking Victor over again, he said bluntly, “This man is a criminal, plain and simple.”
“Come on Erin; we don’t have to listen to this.” Victor stood and motioned to his wife to do the same.
Warren Brietland stood too and pointed a bony finger at his grandson by marriage, “You better listen to this!”
“Grandad, take it easy,” Erin pleaded, “your heart.” She shot her husband a look.
“Since when did you give a damn about my heart, young lady? You’d be happy to see me dead and the Brietland fortune divided. I wasn’t born yesterday, you know.”
Erin shook her head and told him, “You know that isn’t true.” Victor simply smirked.
“Listen up, both of you and listen good; money is why we’re sitting here right now. I wouldn’t have this hoodlum in my house otherwise.” He waved a hand at Victor.
“You’re going to be 25 in May,” he directed back at Erin. “My papa, God rest his soul, set up a trust fund for you before he died with annual payouts to begin at age 25.”
Erin leaned forward in her chair, completely focused on her grandfather. “Why haven’t I heard about this before?”
Before the old man could answer, Victor interrupted asking, “How much money is it?”
Warren Brietland addressed him first, “That’s none of your concern.” To Erin he said, “There are layered conditions to the trust that you have not met or you would have started receiving payouts at 21.”
Erin sank back into her chair and slumped down. “And what are those? School I bet...”
Brietland nodded. “You started running with hoodlums and decided not to go to college. Why Christian let you get away with so much garbage after your mother’s passing I’ll never understand but your great grandfather wasn’t nearly so lenient with you.” Smiling slightly, he continued, “Papa stipulated, when he created the trust that minimal payouts would begin when you were 21 and at least a junior in college. Those smaller payouts would continue through college and graduate school and then increase to full payments at age 25, presumably when you’d finished your education. When you failed to show any interest in obtaining an education, the trust reverted to its secondary provisions with payments not starting until age 25.”
“And now,” Victor interrupted again, “she starts getting paid, right?”
“And now, she can potentially start receiving payments.”
“What the fuck does that mean?” Victor ground out.
“Baby!” Erin cautioned Victor. “I’m sorry Grandfather,” she said next.
Brietland shook his head. “Against my better judgement, funds are set to release each May provided you are in a stable relationship and you and your spouse or significant other are both gainfully employed and not in any sort of legal trouble. Failure to meet those conditions means that the trust does not begin payouts until you reach age 30.”
“Forget this shit,” Victor spat. “We’re doing just fine without...without...Papa or whoever’s money!”
“Just fine, you say? Harrumph! Neither one of you has done a day of honest work in...in years! You’re living off of Christian’s inheritance and off of what you steal or what you sell to people to shoot into their arms.”
Victor stood again. “I’m out of here. This was a complete waste of my fucking time.”
Erin stood too but held out a hand to slow Victor’s retreat. She looked at her grandfather, still seated behind his desk. “If we have jobs, we get the money?”
Brietland nodded, “If you both have jobs, and you’re both living like model citizens, you get an annual distribution, yes.”
“And the distribution...how much is it?” Erin asked him and then cast her eyes to the floor.
The older man sighed. “Papa was a very wealthy man Erin. Your distributions will be in excess of $200,000 annually.”
“Are you shittin’ me?” Victor cried out.
“I assure you,” Warren Brietland told the couple, “everything I’ve said is true.”
“And who decides that whole ‘model citizen’ thing, you?” Victor asked him.
“I’m the trustee of the money. I decide.”
“So you’re saying,” Erin questioned, “we get jobs and stay out of trouble and I get $200,000 once I turn 25?”
“Not quite. You don’t need to just ‘stay out of trouble’ per se. You both need to stop doing all of the crap that you’re doing that brings shame to the Brietland family name. That means, you,” he pointed at Victor, “need to get away from that gang of motorcycle criminals and distance yourself from that entire lifestyle, completely. You fail to do that, there will be no distributions until Erin is 30 and, I guarantee you, I’ll see to it that you’re behind bars long before that.”
“It’s not a fucking gang old man. It’s a legitimate motorcycle club and I’m the President. It’s a riding club.”
“Who do you think you’re trying to fool? I wasn’t born yesterday Voll.”
Victor tried to stare the man down but Warren Brietland didn’t give an inch. Instead, he stood up, walked toward the other man and, pressing a finger to the biker’s chest, told him, “You have a week.”
Recoiling slightly, Victor asked him, “For what? To get a job old man?”
“A week to get out of the gang business.”
Victor Voll was quiet for several long seconds then he asked, “And what if I don’t? You’ll take my birthday away?”
“I’ll make you wish you were never born Voll. I didn’t get to be where I am because I’m some sort of chump.”
Victor’s look changed from belligerent to bewildered. “One week?”
“That would be no later than the 14th!”
“Ain’t that Valentine’s Day?”
Warren Brietland shrugged. “I don’t care what day it is! Get out of the gang business or, as I said, I’ll make you wish you were never born.”
“Baby, I don’t want you in the gang any more anyway. We’re getting too old for all of that,” Erin pleaded with Victor. “Besides, my grandfather is a very wealthy man. Papa left him a ton and I’m bound to inherit some of that. Until then, $200,000 a year ought to do us pretty good.”
“You’re forgetting that he said we have to get legit jobs. I ain’t workin’ no kinda job and havin’ some ass wipe tellin’ me what to do. With my boys, I make the rules.”
“Victor, my dad isn’t fronting us 200 grand a year. That’s a lot of cash we could be getting to just go and ahead and blow off. Grandpa didn’t say where we had to work or how many hours. I bet we could work on the farms a few hours here and there and slide by.” Erin shook her head and then, as a thought came to her said to him, “Look at my Uncle Daniel.”
“What about him?”
“He don’t do half of what my dad does and he’s sittin’ pretty. He just manages the oil properties. His guys do all the grunt work. He’s making so much off of Papa’s estate that Aunt Kimber don’t do nothin’ at all but coach cheerleading.”
“Are those two bitch daughters of hers getting paid?”
“I dunno. Probably not. They’re still in high school but they probably will if they go to college. Papa probably set up the same deal for them.”
Victor grunted. “Do you think they know that?”
“Don’t you go spillin’ your guts to them,” he warned her.
“I don’t even talk to them Victor!” she responded angrily. “They’re stupid kids!”
They were both quiet for several long seconds. Finally Erin asked him, “Don’t you get tired of it all?”
He glared at his wife.
“Come on, seriously; you don’t get tired of pushing and the gang wars...the turf wars, always being on the run from the law?”
“Yeah, for your information, I do get tired of it.”
“So here’s our chance to get out of it.”
“You don’t just walk away from the life Erin.”
“You weren’t always Chief, you know. You replaced that other dude. What happened to him, Victor?” She said his name with more than a little venom.
Victor looked sheepish. “He, uh...sort of retired. Lives out in Arizona somewhere now.”
“Well, there you go. Retire.”
“That simple, huh?”
“And just how the hell do you think I’m gonna replace myself in a week? Your damn grandfather gave me a week, remember?”
“Let your crew fight it out,” she told him. “Best man wins or some such shit. Doesn’t matter. You just consider yourself officially retired.”
Sunday Morning, February 8th
Victor Voll walked into the run down old farmhouse they were now calling their clubhouse and looked around. He shook his head in disgust at finding most of his best men lying around drunk and hung over from partying hard the night before.
Kicking at the still sleeping ‘Traveler’ McGinnis, he called out, “Wake your ass up.”
Traveler rubbed his eyes and, through slits, looked at Chief but he didn’t move.
Victor grabbed him by the front of his shirt and half hauled him from the grubby old sofa he was laid out on. “I said get the fuck up!”
Raising his hands in defense, Traveler told Victor, “Okay, okay man. Ease up.” The slightly older man rubbed his forehead as he staggered to his feet still a little drunk from the usual Saturday night throw down. Questioning the man he never called anything but ‘Chief’, he asked him, “What’s up?”
“I’m calling a chapter meeting, pins only, that’s what’s up. It looks like most of the usual suspects are here. Get the women out of here and gather ‘em up.”
Victor glared at Traveler, “Yes, now!”
Victor looked out at the motley assemblage of chapter members. Only about fifteen men had been readily available to meet on an early Sunday morning. They’d been the ones laying around the abandoned farmhouse they’d taken over as a clubhouse when The Boar’s Head, the old bar they used to hang out at, got a new owner who made the place a yuppie hang out.
“Order!” he called out, though the room was filled with men in various stages of their usual winter Sunday hangovers and drug withdrawals who weren’t talking much at all. “There’s only one order of business today so this will be right quick but ya’ll need to listen up.” He paused and watched as Traveler slumped even further in his chair. Shaking his head, he continued, “A serious personal issue has been brought to my attention that requires my full attention. It’s going to take me, uh, a while to resolve it.”
A few of his men looked at him curiously but most of them, he realized, were just too drunk or high or too hung over to care about what he was saying. They were only sitting there because Traveler had told them Chief called a meeting. Victor blew out a breath and moved forward with his planned speech to them anyway.
“Effective next Saturday, I’ll be stepping down as your leader.” He noticed Traveler straighten up a little in the beat up ladder back chair he was sitting on. Rat Tail and Pinch, his enforcers were also suddenly very attentive.
“Who takes over for you Chief?” Pinch called out.
Traveler half turned in his seat and looked directly at Victor. “I’m your Lieutenant...I deserve it...I earned it.”
Victor looked Walker McGinnis over. He’d come up through the ranks with Traveler but, where he’d learned to keep business and pleasure separate, Traveler never had. “Look at you;” he told the other man, “you’re a mess. You’re using your own supply. You haven’t earned anything. You don’t deserve any more right now than the lowest man here does.”
He looked around the room again. More of the men were listening now. “Okay, here’s what’s going to happen; for the next week you’re going to compete to be the next Chief.”
“Compete hell!” Traveler spat out. “It’s my spot!”
Rat Tail jumped to his feet, “I bust my ass for this club Traveler. All you do is sit on yours and shoot up! I want to be Chief!” He scowled first at Traveler and then at his counterpart Pinch who glared right back at him.
“You’ll get your chance,” Victor told him as he pointed at the man. “You’ll all get your chance.” He waved a pointed finger around at the men in the room. “I ain’t goin’ anywhere until someone steps up big time.”
“Big how, Chief?” Pinch asked, getting to his own feet next to the slightly taller Rat Tail.
“I told you, you’re going to compete for the spot. You have a week, starting right now, to pull off the biggest, baddest...whatever, that you can. The man that does the most for the good of the club gets my spot.”
“Who the fuck decides that?” Pinch yelled.
“I do, of course,” Victor replied and then stood back as the room became bedlam. Men yelled and cursed him and each other. When the hubbub finally quieted a little, he moved forward to speak again but Traveler cut him off.
Rising from his chair off to one side of Victor and drawing himself up to his full height, he approached his superior. Standing face to face with him, he asked him loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, “How about if I just kill you now? How about that?”
Guns and knives appeared from around the room and three men took quick steps toward Traveler.
Victor sidestepped his unarmed number two. “Whoa!” he called out as he held up his arms and waved his hands back toward the rest of the room. “Calm down. Calm down.” To Traveler he said, “Sit your dumb ass down. Nobody is killing anybody!” When the room became mostly quiet again he cautioned his men, “Anybody dies, it better fuckin’ not be anybody in this room! Got that? We’re brothers here. We don’t off each other!”
There were nods all around.
Victor looked at Traveler. “Got that?” he asked him.
Traveler’s apology was clipped but Victor could see a fire in his eyes he hadn’t seen there in a couple of years.
“Go off and kill off our rivals if you want to impress for top dog.” He sighed then. “Look,” he told them, “I’m not leaving you. I’ll be around. I just won’t be your leader anymore, see? I’ll introduce your new leader to our, uh, suppliers and such but, other than that, he’s on his own to run this outfit as he sees fit. If he runs it into the ground, that’s on him and you all can fight that out amongst yourselves.”
Rat Tail looked at Victor suspiciously, “I ain’t buyin’ this. I mean, what’s in it for you? You’re getting the biggest cut now. You ain’t just walkin’ away from that.” He spat chew into a beer can. “You’re full of shit if you say you are.”
“Yeah, what’s in it for you?” Traveler asked, eyeing his Chief now as Victor had eyed him before.
“I’ll get a members cut just like most of you get when I can perform expected club duties. That’s only fair. The thing is, that might not be for a while but, trust me, we’ll be ridin’ together again one day...hopefully soon.”
The Same Day
“Just over five months,” I said out loud, to no one in particular. “We’ve been married five months.” My dog Boo just tilted her little head and stared at me.
I smiled to myself. After my divorce from Nate and then the disaster of my relationship with the first woman I’d ever dared to open myself up to, Terri, I didn’t think I’d ever find real love with anyone, but Mel had come along and shown me that I was completely wrong.
Picking Boo up, I ruffled her behind the ears and then set her in my lap. “Mommy’s not going to get any writing done today baby girl. There’s just too much on my mind.”
My thoughts turned back to Mel. She’s more than a little married to her job and it seems like I hardly get to see her these days. I would have thought things would slow down after she resolved all of those cases back in December but the holidays and now the winter weather have kept her hopping.
“I love her to death Boo,” I told our little Boston terrier. “I just wish we had more time to be together and do things.”
A knock startled me out of my thoughts. “Why didn’t you warn me someone was coming?” I softly chastised my pup. She ignored me, jumped down and headed toward the door instead, yapping excitedly.
My mama stepped into the little writing hut Mel had, had built for me on our back lot. “Mmm, toasty warm in here,” she said. “I’m sorry to interrupt your work sweetie.”
“It’s okay. What’s up?”
“You told me yesterday that Mel would be working today since both of her Lieutenants needed off so I thought I’d check on you. When she’s not here and you’re not helping in the store, you hole up in this shack and you forget to do things like eat.”
“It’s not a ‘shack’, Mama. I love my little writing hut and I did eat.”
“Dana, that was hours ago. I’ve been to church and back with Faye and then your father and I had a nice lunch. I left some for you in your kitchen so why don’t you head back into the house and eat?”
“I will, I swear. There are just a few more things I want to get done before I do that.”
“Mmm,” she said again as she looked at my computer screen. It was open to a page that was titled ‘Chapter 4’ but, other than that, it was blank. “Are you stuck? What do they call it; writer’s block?”
“No. I’m not stuck. I just ended up having to do a little more research than I thought before I dove into this chapter, is all.”
I knew she saw right through me.
“Dana, is everything okay with you? With you and Mel, I mean?”
“Everything’s fine...great. Why do you ask?”
“You just seem a little down.”
She’s onto me! I sighed. “Honestly Mama, it’s really nothing, I’m just missing her; that’s what it is. Ever since the election, she’s had one official duty after another and, on top of that, it’s like the whole county has gone mad. It’s just been one major crime after another too. It seems like any day that she doesn’t have to work, she gets called out anyway.”
“You’re missing all the lovey-dovey newlywed stuff, aren’t you?”
“No, no. It’s not that. Not really. I just miss seeing her much at all. I just want to be able to spend some time with her.”
“What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?”
“This coming weekend!” She gave me a look like she hadn’t given me since I was a kid and got caught sneaking cookies before dinner. “So, I take it you two have no plans?”
I shook my head no. “Not that I’m aware of. I suppose I could make us a reservation somewhere. I don’t even know her schedule for next weekend though. Her work does come first right now.”
“Harrumph! We’ll just see about that.”
“Mama, please just leave it alone. It’s okay, really.”
After Mama left, I headed to the house. While the mushroom chicken dish she’d left me was heating up, I stepped into Mel’s den. Her laptop sat closed on her desk, gathering dust. She hadn’t used it in at least a couple of weeks. I sat down in her chair and waited while it booted up.
Aimlessly, I clicked the little internet icon. Her homepage opened with the day’s most recent headlines.
I heard the microwave beep as I scanned down through them, not really seeing them, and I was about to go and grab my food but then I stopped and jumped backwards a couple of articles. A headline involving Young International being lauded for helping the FBI to nail a white collar criminal caught my eye.
Clicking the link, I skimmed the story quickly and then sat, drumming my fingers on the desk, thinking. Boo circling me and yapping non-stop finally drew me out of my reverie.
Mentally, I shook myself. I’d been remembering my days in security and investigations with Young and dwelling on the past.
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