Seduction of Wealth - Emma Calin - ebook
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Kaitlyn's hot, strong and honest - just the way that sexy Randolph Quinn would love his girl, if he could find her. He's a billionaire in trouble. She's the cop on his case and he'll only surrender to love. A juicy mix of cops, crime and passion in another stand-alone story in this #1 bestselling series. London traffic cop Kaitlyn Thorn narrowly escapes a Mafia attack on world-dominating banker Randolph Quinn, a key witness under her protection. Someone on the inside has gone bad and betrayed her location. With orders to keep him alive at all costs, she has nothing to follow but her gut and her heart. Alone and a fugitive with this sexy and powerful man, she can't hold back her desire. Her bosses want to keep her inside his life and she craves his heat for her deep female need. She knows she's gone wild but the exotic fruit of lust is sweet. Can she trust him? What is the source of his infinite wealth? How can her bosses order her to ignore the laws of the world? The action and passion unroll through London, Paris, Milan and New York. Only the final showdown in Rome will set her free. No Cheating, HEA. 'Seduction of Wealth', another stand-alone story in Emma Calin's 'Seduction Series', combining thrilling crime mystery with steamy suspense romance. If you enjoy James Patterson, Catherine Coulter, Nora Roberts and Kendra Elliot you'll love a story that combines all of their best traits in a fast-paced, pulse-pounding roller-coaster adventure full of romance, deception, danger and love. Scroll up now and click to get this fun, steamy ride across continents. Other Books in the Seduction Series: Seduction of Combat Seduction of Dynasty Seduction of Taste Seduction of dynasty Plus Seduction of Crowns Seduction of Santa

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SEDUCTION

OF

WEALTH

Hot Cops

Hot Crime

Hot Romance

––––––––

By

Emma Calin

SEDUCTION OF WEALTH

First published 2018

By Gallo-Romano Media

copyright © 2018 Emma Calin

––––––––

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

––––––––

All characters in this compilation are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

http://smarturl.it/LeadFromWealth

Table of Contents

Seduction of Wealth

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SEDUCTION OF WEALTH

By Emma Calin

Chapter 1

“Oscar-Lima-Three to Oscar-Control, we’ve got a lot of Italian sports car French kissing an English oak tree. Looks like only bent metal. Standby for update. Over.”

Police Constable Kaitlyn Thorn re-clipped her shoulder radio mic, killed the siren of her BMW 530d patrol car as she updated traffic control at Scotland Yard. She stepped out and assessed the scene with quick eyes that had seen it all before; well maybe not quite all. This was an odd one. Straight dry tarmac, 2 p.m. on a fine autumn day in a quiet South London suburban street. A Maserati GranTurismo cabriolet in collision with a tree. Low speed impact. A guy was standing by the vehicle making a call on his cellphone. She let him talk, noting his size, age, and spectacular condition. Blood was trickling from his temple, dripping from his chin onto the lapel of his expensive gray business suit. He was alive and clearly fit.

She checked the interior for casualties, pushing away the deployed airbag. A Gucci briefcase was open on the front passenger seat. A neat folder was embossed with the vulture and bankroll crest of Sackman-Platinum Bank. Something out of place caught her eye. She reached out to recover it.

“You’ll need a warrant,” said a deep voice as a large hand gripped her forearm.

“You’ll need to know how to get out of handcuffs if you don’t let go,” she said, half turning to stare hard into the tanned, handsome face of the guy she assumed was the driver.

He released his hold and stood back, leaving his calm brown eyes on hers. Like this banker type could just touch a cop and make eyes at her. She pulled her gaze away and reached back into the briefcase to retrieve the item that had caught her attention.

“What’s this?”

“You’re the police officer,” he said.

She rolled a heavy caliber lead shotgun pellet between her fingers.

“Maybe we’ll save the difficult questions for an interview at the station. Are you the driver?”

“What interview at the station?”

“Last time I’m going to ask you. Are you the driver?”

“Ah huh.”

“Have you been drinking?”

“Nope.”

“Drugs?”

“Caffeine.”

“I require you to provide a specimen of breath. Come with me to the police car.”

“I told you, I haven’t been drinking.”

“I require you to provide a specimen of breath for analysis,” she said.

He shrugged and studied the number on her uniform epaulets. “It’s your time to waste, constable eight-three-eight.”

“Blow into this....”

She checked the intoximeter. Negative.

“So what happened?” she asked.

“Can’t remember.”

“Did you black out? Be careful how you answer. If you tell me you lost consciousness before the crash you’re going to lose your license.”

She held his eyes.

“Are you trying to be kind to me?”

“You’ve heard of good cop bad cop? We’re short of staff so I cover both jobs.”

She could never resist playing life for the jokes. He was smiling, then laughing all the way to his dark eyes.

“At least you can still see the funny side. Tell me what happened,” she said.

“Look, I must have just lost concentration for a second. I think I was checking the fuel gauge or something like that.”

This guy was beginning to piss her off. It was a small crash with no major injury. She could wrap it up now, take all his details, call in a damage only, no allegations, a classic NFPA—no further police action. She could. She was off duty in another half hour and she had a karate class.

“I’m going to check out your car and I don’t need a warrant.”

He walked with her, back to the wreck. He was tall and held himself well. His hair was dark brown, expensively overlong, his nose straight but broad.

“How did you cut your temple?”

“Must have been some glass,” he replied.

She had stopped at the driver’s door. Shattered glass covered the seat and the floor well. The impact had been to the front.

The impact had been to the front!

Something had smashed the side window. Something like a pellet from a shotgun. The metal of the door was pitted with small dents. A picture formed in her mind. Either way this guy was in trouble. And he was not going to walk away without telling her the truth.

“Just tell me what happened. Don’t tell me the tree jumped out or that a guy was shooting rabbits and you got in the way.”

He raised his hands in mock surrender.

“I like the rabbit angle. Those huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ types are real mean.”

She let out a sigh. Someone had just tried to kill this guy and here he was shrugging it off and giving her that smile. She took her time pulling out her notebook from her hip pocket.

“Name?”

“Randolph Quinn.”

“Date of birth?

“24th November, 1988.”

“Who owns the car?”

“Me. One of my companies, not sure which one.”

“Give me a clue.”

“The Church of Mammon.”

“Mister, are you just taking the piss or what?”

“As if....”

She called in a car check.

“Oscar-Control to Oscar-Lima-Three. Platinum Maserati GranTurismo. Registered owner Artemis Financial Associates, Canary Wharf. Registered brand new yesterday. No trace lost or stolen.”

She called in his personal details. Not known to police. Now she had to make a decision. As far as she could see she had no reason to lock him up. Except maybe to save his life. He was calmly examining the damage to the car, taking pictures with his cellphone.

“Smile,” he said as he focused on her.

“Not part of the service,” she snapped back.

“OK. One with your police hat off then—please.”

“You’re a cocky bastard.”

“Just one shot without the hat.

This was stupid and ridiculous. Even with the blood now dried on his face he was gorgeous. He’d adopted an expression of a disappointed boy, his dark eyes turned to a sorrowful pleading. In an impulse she snatched off her white-topped Traffic Patrol cap.

“There!”

“Spiky streaky blond. You’ve got a special look.”

He was beaming a smile and she just couldn’t stop that flicker of a response on her lips and deep inside her. She was snapping out of this right now.

“I’m arresting you on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle. You do not have to say anything but anything—”

“I’ve seen all that stuff on TV. You’ve got no grounds to lock me up.”

“You didn’t know the owner of the car. That’s enough suspicion for me. Handcuffs or not?”

He made a show of rubbing his chin in thought.

“On balance, not.”

“Mr Quinn, I’m not an idiot. Someone has fired a shotgun at your vehicle causing you to lose control and hit a tree. My guess is that you’re the target of a carefully planned hit. Maybe it was a warning, maybe you just got lucky. Maybe the boys are round the corner reloading ready for another go. Maybe I just want to keep you alive for a bit longer. Walking away is just not an option for a cop.”

He nodded, his face now serious.

“I do need to get out of here and you know, you’re the sort of girl who could take me anywhere.”

He collected his briefcase and slumped into the front passenger seat of the police BMW.

“Prisoners go in the back.”

“I’m the type of man who sits in the front. I’m quite happy to drive if you need a break. We could be a team.”

She stared at him. He was so bloody confident and arrogant. Many people would be a trembling wreck in his situation. He was a year older than her but their worlds must be light years apart.

“Where were you brought up?” she asked.

“Croydon—New Addington Estate,” he replied in a sudden South London accent. “Poor boy made good—that’s me.”

She turned her blue eyes to examine his face.

“Just sit there quiet and shut up. We’re going in to Brixton police station. You need to talk to the C.I.D.”

“I’ll only talk to you, OK. I’ll tell you my story. We can take it from there.”

She knew that would be impossible but she left him in ignorance while she called in to Scotland Yard for a vehicle recovery and a scenes of crime examination. She had to keep professional even though this guy was giving her some twitches she thought had stopped in her teens. She started the motor and responded abruptly.

“Seat belt.”

He snapped in as she checked the mirror. A black motorcycle was on the corner of the junction 500 yards behind the police car. Some primitive cop instinct gave her a shiver. She glanced at her passenger. He was flicking through the photos on his cellphone, smiling at the shots he’d taken of her. She glanced back at the mirror. The bike was still there. Two riders in helmets. She was facing away from them, and they wouldn’t expect her to come their way. She checked the tension on the handbrake, selected Drive and floored the gas pedal. The tires squealed and smoked as she went full lock and grabbed the brake to spin the car the opposite way. She hit the gas as the BMW straightened up. The bike riders had begun to react. In their place she would have come straight toward her but they weren’t trained pursuit drivers. They turned and fled but she’d gotten close enough to read the license plate.

“Be careful—those guys...,” he began.

“I told you to shut the fuck up. Now shut the fuck up.”

She punched the mic button to transmit live. “Oscar-Lima-Three to Oscar-Control. In pursuit of black motorcycle, north on A23, high speed, approaching traffic lights at South Circular Road. It’s a left, left, left toward Clapham.”

She hit the switches for sirens and blue lamps, swerving through a red light and forcing an extra lane through the traffic. The bike was pulling away, weaving through cars and using the sidewalk. It was still in sight as it hurtled onto the open green of Clapham Common.

“Oscar-Lima-Three to Oscar-Control—they’ve returned to nature across the grass.”

“Roger that. We have them on CCTV. Stand down Oscar-Lima-Three.

She took a deep breath and slapped the steering wheel.

“Sod it. I wanted my hands on those bastards.”

“You’re not just a pretty face. That was some bit of driving,” he said.

“You should see me at the start of my shift and I’m not trying to be any kind of pretty face.”

“That’s the thing with real pretty girls; they don’t have to try. It’s just the way they are. I prefer you without the hat. I’d need to make an assessment without the uniform for my final judgment.”

She shook her head, outwardly ignoring him, and listened to the police radio. The police chopper India-Nine-Nine had located one of the riders hiding behind a shed in the backyard of a house backing onto the common. He was about to meet a German shepherd police dog.

“Those guys on the bike fired at you didn’t they?”

“What kind of young people is our society creating, officer?”

“Cops, bankers, crooks,” she said.

He nodded.

“Takes a better man than me to tell the difference.”

Chapter 2

The custody sergeant had the slow droop of a long-retired bloodhound. He looked up from the pile of paperwork on his desk.

“What have you got for me young lady?”

“She’s got me. It’s an unlawful arrest but she means well. Don’t be cross with her, inspector. You know how women can be.”

“Hmm ... clever dick, eh. I’m not an inspector.”

“You should be. I’ll speak to the commissioner.”

The sergeant turned to a young officer who had walked in.

“Martin, search him and put him straight in a cell. I’m not in the mood for comedians.”

“Sarge, he’s just got too much yap for his own good. He doesn’t know who owns the car he’s just crashed,” said Kaitlyn.

“And someone loosed off a twelve bore to assist his driving skills,” added the sergeant.

“My fame always goes ahead of me,” said Randolph Quinn.

The sergeant sighed, clearly aware of the story so far.

“Between you and me, son, I can see straightaway why someone would take you out. If I were you I’d be a bit concerned about walking down the steps out of this place. Search him, Martin.”

“Can’t Miss 838 do it?”

The sergeant ignored his remark and began listing the property.

“Leather Gucci wallet containing cash to value of eight hundred and seventy-one pounds. Chopard Mille Miglia watch. Visa Infinite credit card. Merrill Accolades American Express card, Sackman-Platinum Wings of Wealth card.”

“I’ll need one of those cards back. I’ll have to pop in somewhere to get a new car on the way home,” said Randolph.

The custody sergeant turned the Visa Infinite card over in his hand. He looked hard in the face of his prisoner, a faint smile on his lips.

“Infinite wealth?” he asked.

“A fair assessment, I suppose.”

“Shame the card isn’t in your name,” he said.

“Randolph Quinn is my business name.”

Kaitlyn caught his eye. He gave her a small lift of his eyebrow.

“So what is your name?”

“Lee Smith, billionaire, at your service,” he said.

“So who is Randolph Quinn?”

“He’s the true soul of Lee Smith, like the statue hidden inside the stone waiting for the hand of the sculptor.”

“You’re just so full of shit,” she said.

“Sarge, did you hear that? This is police brutality. I’m a victim of crime remember.”

“We don’t know who you are, you don’t know who owns that car, you’ve got a Mickey Mouse credit card, and somehow you’re involved with a firearms incident. You might be with us for a while. You’re entitled to a lawyer and to notify someone that you’re here. We’ll call a police surgeon to look at that cut. Do you have any requests?”

“A nice strong cup of tea with plenty of sugar.”

The sergeant nodded.

“Put him in a cell, Kaitlyn. We’ll see about the tea.”

She banged the door shut and took a final look at him through the grille. The cell block had an odor of vomit, urine, bleach, and man-sweat. She didn’t feel proud to leave him here but what the hell? She didn’t expect to see him again anyway. She’d give her report to the detectives and she might just catch the last few minutes of her karate class. She watched him sit on the concrete ledge seat that would double as his bed if they kept him in. Just who had fired at him and why? He looked up at the bars and smiled.

“Don’t forget the sugar darlin’.”

She found herself smiling almost laughing. He had the cheek of Old Nick.

“I’m off duty now,” she said.

“I’d get you a cup of tea any time if you hadn’t banged me up in jail.”

She went to the small utility kitchen and made a cup of tea in a Styrofoam cup, adding two spoons of sugar. She pulled down the grille flap and handed it in to him.

“Thank you, and I mean that, Kaitlyn.”

His eyes were still and fixed on her face. She liked him to look at her, liked him to say her name. He was a streetwise London boy from her own place in life.

“You seem more like a Randolph Quinn than a Lee Smith,” she said.

“Depends who I’m dealing with. I’d always be your Randolph,” he said, gulping at the tea. “Tell your bosses I’ll only talk to you. I’ll tell them the same. What’s not to like?”

“Detectives do what they do. I’m a traffic cop.”

“You’re one hell of a cop. I’m not saying you’ve got balls because that would be impolite and as yet I’ve no personal insights....”

“And you might get a smack in your smooth-tongued gob.”

“Lovely tea. Only a real woman could make tea like this.”

She looked at his perfect teeth, smiling with full sensual lips that just pushed a slight sense of a kiss into her mind. He was looking back at her lips and she could almost begin to soften her own expression to signal a complicity—or a desire.

“Before I go, I do want to know something. When we were at the car did you know those guys were on that corner with the bike?”

“Yeah, I knew. For a minute I thought you weren’t going to arrest me. Then I would have been in the shit. I wasn’t exactly expecting the Nascar driving stunt.”

“They could have killed both of us.”

“I did think of that.”

“And....”

“Well, I thought of that because I’m the sort of infallible man who thinks of everything. Mainly I thought they wouldn’t want to get involved with cops. I was like that myself before I met you.”

“You’re a complete bloody con-artist, Lee Smith. Enjoy your tea,” she said as she flipped the grille shut. Now she had to begin the writing.

Chapter 3

Although she’d missed the class, Kaitlyn slid her Nissan 350Z Roadster into the car park of the Battersea Sports Centre. Normally she knew how she felt and exactly what she wanted to achieve. This night was just a little bit different. Something had gotten under her skin and she had a name for it, or maybe two. Tonight she needed to share because suddenly a small forgotten light in her had switched on and then gone out. The cruelest thing in a prisoner’s cell is a little ray of teasing light. And she’d just slammed it shut. She needed a friend and maybe a drink. And tonight she had something to show off.

“Don’t tell me, let me think. Crisis traffic jam in Whitehall and you just couldn’t get away.”

Kaitlyn hugged her best mate Camille as she came out of the doors.

“Traffic cops don’t just do that stuff. What did you detect today on the vice squad? People having sex?”

“Powerless emaciated little cows getting raped for money as it happens,” replied Camille with an edge in her voice.

“All I had was a car chase with armed killers and a brush with a billionaire hunk banker who gave me the eye.”

“So what are you doing here with me? Why aren’t you exposing your show-stopping female allure to his golden gaze?”

“Because I’ve locked him up in a cell in Brixton nick.”

“Romantic or what? What’s the charge?”

“Good question. Some thugs loosed off a shotgun at him. He’s got couple of different identities and he’s vague about who owns his brand new Maserati.”

“He’s got to be a villain mixed up in some kind of turf war,” said Camille with a dismissive wave of her hands.

Kaitlyn stood back from her friend. Camille was a couple of years older, a detective at West End Central for the past five years. She was wiser than the hardest of mean streets. She’d known her since the first day at Hendon Training School. Even then she’d been tougher and stronger. She’d already spent two years as third officer on a cruise liner. Kaitlyn had been studying psychology at university and working on her uncle’s fairground diner at Canvey Island.

“I’d like to imagine a world where sometimes you’re wrong,” she sighed.

“Like you’ve got some sort of feeling for this hood?”

“Some sort of feeling that sometimes you meet someone and there’s something special that’s not just a load of shit.”

“Must have happened somewhere sometime I guess,” said Camille.

“But not to me. Not to people like us, women like us.”

“I’m a detective. I work on the evidence,” said Camille with a laugh. “But, I’d rather work on a cocktail right now.”

Kaitlyn took her arm. Tomorrow was a rest day and she could sleep it off.

“Mine’s a Mojito,”

“Mine’s a Porn Star Martini. These days I’ve got the glasses to wear with it,” said Camille.

They settled with their drinks into a corner of Southsider’s Cocktail Club. It was still early evening and the trade was office staff and a few braver tourists taking in South London before dark.

“So, show me what you’ve done now, my impetuous Kaitlyn.”

“It’s just a small tattoo. Everyone’s got ink.”

“Not everyone. Not me. Not the posh lady commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. All those spokesman cops on the TV; they’re not inked up.”

“I’m a traffic cop grinding it out in the engine room,” said Kaitlyn.

“So now you’ll have to wear long sleeves. You’ve fucked your chances for top cop one day.”

Of course Camille was right as always. Met Police rules forbade display of tattoos.

“Top cop. I’m a nobody, but I’ve got some ink that expresses me.”

“Bloody show me then.”

Kaitlyn slipped off her Nike hoodie top and held out her arm. Camille put on her porn star glasses.

“It’s, it’s fantastic. Sexy, like too sexy. Makes me think of woman power somehow. Like it’s huge. I do love it, but what the fuck is it?”

“It’s from a photo I took years ago. It’s the Assyrian goddess Ishtar, grand momma of love, fertility, and war.”

“That seems to cover most of the angles,” commented Camille.

“She also covers desire, political power, and beauty.”

“So the tattoo kind of gives you that power?”

“No, women hold that power if they realize it. The picture reminds me, the spirit of the goddess walks with me.”

“I’m going to get to the bar and walk some more beautiful spirits back for us,” said Camille.

“See? It works,” said Kaitlyn leaving her arm bare with a secret pride. She’d been nervous about showing it off. It had changed her, taken her away from being a cop. One day, maybe, the right man would see it, ask her about it and then she’d explain. Explain how she’d gone to the British Museum as part of her psychology course and seen the image, taken a photo. How the idea of such a goddess had spoken to her, seduced her to some extent. And then, maybe the right guy would talk back and ask more, more than just to use her, like she represented that goddess for only him and that her true power was to love in return. Maybe.

“I got doubles. I sense this is going to be a deep exploration,” said Camille.

“Explore yourself for once Camille. What’s next for you?”

“More of the same. I still see whatshisname on and off.”

“You mean like your husband.”

“Meaning Captain Fantastic, cruiser of the seven seas, every showgirl dancer, and port of the world.”

“Why don’t you divorce?”

“What’s the point? He needs a lodging between cruises and I need a lodger to help pay the rent. Biologists call it symbiosis.”

“You don’t care about his private life?”

“I’ve told him he’s a health risk and not to use any of my towels. If he drowns at sea, I get his pension. I keep a close eye on the hurricane forecast and wait for that sad voiced official call, but so far I’ve not gotten lucky.”

“You still love him.”

“Not like I’d love a simple gin and tonic.”

Kaitlyn got the drinks. Doubles of course. Her mind turned over the wisdom of discussing a certain Randolph Quinn. Her brain said NO. Three double Mojitos slurred YES.

“That guy I put in the cells. I’ve not met someone like that before,” she said, watching Camille’s face for her reaction.

“Everyone’s a unique individual, just like everyone else.”

“No. Listen, he had something special.”

“Like a criminal record.”

“Could be, but I guess he’s a proper banker type.”

“And he came on to you?”

“Why wouldn’t he?”

“For sure you’re gorgeous, hun. The cropped bleached hair, the karate club T-shirt and the tatts. A lot of guys go for that. Your last amour stamped out all the Barbie in you.”

“I was never a Barbie. Glen wanted a frilly girl. I tried to please.”

“What pleased him was putting you down so you wagged your tail like a whipped pup. He was a mummy’s boy monster. So, you’ve transformed into Miss Ironfist. You know it’s not real, not deep down.”

“I learned a lot Camille. Is it a weakness to be lonely and just to want someone?”

“For a woman, yes. Love’s like a barbecue for a woman. Starts slow, but burns hot. And the end is ashes, just bloody ashes.”

“And for the man?”

“He’s cooking the meat, hun. Sometimes it burns him, sometimes he gets sick and sometimes it’s tough. But a man just keeps on cooking and chewing.”

“You’re a poet, Camille.”

“So you’re falling for your cellblock Romeo.”

“No, of course not. He got through to me that’s all.”

Camille called a cab.

“Keep me posted. Don’t elope before I’ve checked him over,” she said as she drove away.

Chapter 4

Her cellphone was ringing or maybe it was in her tangled dream. There was light pushing in at the window; she must be awake.

“Kaitlyn Thorn?” asked a female voice.

“Yeah, yeah. Who is this?”

“My name’s Shannon Knightsmith. I’m a cop but you don’t know me.”

“Right now I don’t know who I know. What time is it?”

“Just gone eleven o’clock.”

Kaitlyn stumbled from her bed. She just about remembered walking the short distance home from the cocktail club.

“Yeah, sorry. I had a late night. It’s my day off.”

“I know. I wouldn’t have called if it wasn’t important. I’m chief inspector on the serious and organized crime group; they keep changing our name but it’ll always be SO7, Scotland Yard to me.”

Kaitlyn fought to clear her head. The woman on the phone had a London accent mixed with something else.

“Well, hi. What?”

“I need to have a chat and it needs to be very soon. What are your plans today and tomorrow?”

“Might check out my stocks and shares and then finish off reading my complete works of Shakespeare. That’s after I recover my car from the Battersea Leisure Centre and see if my mum wants me to drive her to the Gala Bingo at Mitcham. I’m not being cheeky but are you on the level or what?”

The woman replied with a laugh in her voice.

“OK. I think you’ve met a character called Randolph Quinn.”

Kaitlyn’s heart began to thump in her chest.

“Yeah. Look I locked him up because I didn’t really have a choice. I guess he’s a big shot banker and he’s put in a complaint.”

“He’s a very big shot banker and he’s sure complaining. But, not about you. I’m working from home today and I don’t want you to come to Scotland Yard in any case. I’ll explain why when I see you. Can you get down the A23 to Fleetworth Green?”

“I know it. It’s right on the edge of the Met Police area on Z-district. It’s all posh with a stately home, trees and stuff.”

“Should take you about an hour. Don’t mention this to anyone. Get your car and drive down to the shop in the middle of the village. I’m calling on my own cellphone so you’ve got my number. I’ll meet you there. What’s your car?”

“Nissan 350Z.”

“I’ll spot you. You’ll be in time for lunch.”

“Is this important?”

“Do you think I’d be calling you to swap pizza recipes?”

Kaitlyn paused for a moment to think. She guessed she could just refuse but on the other hand she was a professional. And somehow a certain Randolph Quinn was in the mix.

“I’ll need to get myself together. I’ll be there as soon as I can,” she said.

“You’re a star. Big hug and see you soon.”

Kaitlyn took a quick shower. What kind of chief inspector on a flashy Scotland Yard crime squad called you at home and went in for big hugs? This Randolph Quinn must be some kind of big fish in a pretty big pond. For sure he had deep warm eyes and smiling lips that made you just want ... and want.

An old Landrover was parked in front of the village shop. Kaitlyn could see a female at the wheel watching her pull up. The driver got out and came back to her window. She was a gorgeous woman, exotic looking, mixed race, with flawless café latte skin. She wore tight riding jodhpurs, Wellington boots and a tweed jacket. At a guess she was about thirty-five.

“I’m Shannon. Follow me.”

“You’re really a cop right?” asked Kaitlyn, studying her unlikely appearance.

The other woman chuckled, glancing back at Kaitlyn’s tattoo, bleached spiky hair and T-shirt design of a painter smashing his easel and canvas with karate blows. The slogan read “Beware. Martial Artist.”

“Try me. Ask me a cop question.”

“Where’s your warrant card?”

She reached into her pocket and pulled out a Met Police ID badge. Kaitlyn flicked her eyes between the photo and the woman’s face.

“Do I pass?”

“Let’s go then,” said Kaitlyn.

The Landrover turned off the road through massive iron gates. A long gravel drive went through woodland until the view opened out into a mowed parkland with a lake. On the other side was a Georgian-style stone mansion which could easily be a royal palace. They stopped in the rear courtyard which housed stables with the heads of tall thoroughbred horses peering out. There was a smell of cooking. Kaitlyn’s stomach rumbled as she followed Shannon through a large oak door into a stone-floored kitchen hung with copper pots and strings of onions.

“Is this a police place?” asked Kaitlyn.

“Nah, it’s what I call home.”

Kaitlyn looked around, bemused by her surroundings. This was nothing like the damp rented house in Battersea she shared with her friend Lucy who worked shifts as a nurse. Even if she were a chief inspector she could never afford this place. She could see that Shannon was following her thoughts.

“I’ll explain and then we’ll forget this forever. I used to be PC Shannon Aguerri, born in North Peckham. I used to be the village cop here. I married the earl who owns this place. You call me Shannon.”

Kaitlyn smiled. She’d heard of this woman.

“You were on the TV. Countess of Crime and all that.”

“Yeah, it was a slow news day. No pop stars had died and no cute pandas had been born. They needed a feel-good story.”

“I was at Hendon police school then. You did a big crime bust. There was a dead foreign girl....”

Shannon waved her hand.

“That’s all old stuff. You’re only as good as your last job in this game and your job yesterday was pretty special.”

“I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption,” said Kaitlyn.

“And not in a shy way,” added Shannon.

“It’s my favorite karaoke song, but you’ve got to be there to catch the full impact.”

“Next gig I’ll be there, Kaitlyn, and that’s a promise. There’s fresh cooked bread and our own smoked ham.”

Kaitlyn stood up while Shannon fixed some lunch. The view from the window was of open fields and miles away in the distance the outline of the heaving urban mass of London.

“So, what do you want? I might not want to do it.” She was a very junior rank but she’d deal with this on the front foot.

Shannon looked up from carving generous slices of ham.

“I want you to be a guardian angel to our dear Mr Quinn. I say angel, because angels generally don’t end up in bed with their clients. He could charm the apple of temptation from the tree and peel it one handed. You may have noticed that. I can tell you that he sure noticed you.”

Kaitlyn’s heart pumped air for a second.

“He’d notice any girl.”

“Dunno about that. Girls would notice him but from what we can see of him, he’s alone.”

“Why does it matter?”

“That, my dear Watson, is the question indeed. Listen while you eat.”

Shannon sat down. “Randolph Quinn is not a false name. He changed it legally a few years ago. He was a streetwise very sharp guy who tried any way to make money. He even took out a patent on some laser radio system he invented. He had enough cheek to get a job with Sackman-Platinum Bank and has worked his way up to international vice president. That would pay him about one hundred and fifty thousand US dollars a year. There’s a big wedge of bonus but there’s no figure for that.”

“That wouldn’t buy his Maserati.”

“You’re detective material, Kaitlyn. The day job has given him something much more important than a bit of pocket change. It’s given him contacts and, believe me, I know just how that feels.”

Shannon swept her arm around all of her surroundings.

“It’s not what you know but who you know.”

“Yeah, and what you know about who you know and who knows what you know,” Shannon continued. “Randolph Quinn has the instincts of a stray street dog. He sniffs out dirt even when everything looks clean. He can offer to take care of it, maybe seal it up so the smell doesn’t get out. He’s a multi-billionaire with offshore accounts all round the world. Then one day, someone starts to fret that Randolph might be taking slightly too much commission. Randolph explains that his client is in no position to go to the police or to access accounts when only he knows where they are, the numbers, and the codes. Randolph Quinn is the devil’s banker with the key to gangster heaven.”

“And that one day was yesterday.”

“That was the day they sent him an opening message. No one wants to kill him while he’s the only one with the golden key.”

“Has he told you all this?”

Shannon laughed.

“If only he would. I can’t tell you how we know.”

Kaitlyn nodded, looking hard into Shannon’s face.

“So you’ve got an informant or a guy undercover or both, inside the bad guys.”

Shannon raised an eyebrow.

“And a humble traffic cop from the trenches is going to put her head in some kind of homicidal lion’s mouth?”

“That’s my plan, hope, request.”

“Why me?”

“Number one, he wants you. Number two you’re not a detective with possible links to who knows what....”

“Hey, hold it there,” said Kaitlyn. “You’re saying you don’t trust some of your own team and I’m an innocent clean skin. If you just want a bullet stopper I know some real fat cops who’d soak up a whole magazine.”

“When it comes to these guys you can’t trust anyone. The fact is we’ve got nothing on him. We’ve offered him the full witness protection deal if he comes across. It’s just a matter of time before we get enough to lock him up, or the boys get to grab his golden key. We all know that means torture followed by termination.”

“Why the hell does he want me? What do you or anyone expect me to do?”

“He wants you, he’s a man. You’ve got the stuff he likes. He thinks you’re courageous, daring, and kind.”

“Kind?”

“You got him a cup of tea. You didn’t have to.”

“I liked him, I’ve got to say that.”

“He’s been on our radar for a couple of years and I talked to him half the night. I like him too but that won’t stop me locking him up for twenty years.”

Kaitlyn rested her chin in her hands and stared into space. She liked being a traffic cop, the blue lights and sirens drama, the motorcycle outrider duties when they came along. Did she want to help get Randolph Quinn twenty years in jail?

“You can’t make me do this, can you?”

“Nope. And I can’t overlook that I’ve already told you too much,” said Shannon with a colder tone.

“Fuckin’ hell. Fuck, fuck, fuck. OK, tell me what you want me to do.”

Shannon reached out and squeezed her hand. I’ll be out of sight, but with you all the way. He’s still locked up but we’ve moved him to Paddington Green in a catering van. We can’t charge him but we’re dragging our feet checking out all his cards. He knows it’s a bluff. He hasn’t given any statement against the hoods on the bike.”

“What’s happened to them?”

“One of them had some cocaine the other one was wanted for some petty stuff. We just don’t know what happened to the gun. At a guess there was a backup team who mopped up the mess. They’re contract boys and in a few days they’ll be back on the street. I’m hoping we’ll have the resources to keep on top of them.”

“When will Quinn get out?”

“When you can get there. We’re letting him go on bail on condition he accepts police supervision. The law doesn’t give us that power but he knows we’ll find some way to bust him if he doesn’t play ball. Your job will be to keep close to him. There’ll be a team around the periphery and you’ll be tooled up. Your firearms scores are top ten percent. The rest—”

Shannon stopped and sighed, giving Kaitlyn’s hand another squeeze. “The rest is freestyle for you. We want this guy to come over to the good side, make a deal, and live happily ever after. He doesn’t trust cops but he does trust a sparky London girl fallen from the same tree on the same hard ground. If he’ll talk to anyone ever, he’ll talk to you.”

Kaitlyn returned Shannon’s squeeze.

“Am I allowed to feel afraid?”

“Who wouldn’t? You’ll need clothes and your passport just in case. If you can’t find it we’ll fix it.”

“Are we going abroad?”

“He’s a top international banker.”

“Bloody hell! And who’s the enemy Shannon? You owe me an answer to that.”

Shannon took a deep breath.

“You’re at the point of no return anyway. Yesterday’s little crash was organized by a clan of the Albanian Mafia led by a moron called Valmir Rudovic. We’re working with the Italian Caribinieri di Milano, the French Gendarmerie in Paris and the FBI Washington DC bureau. This is big. Our estimate is that Randolph Quinn has control of wealth to the value of one hundred and sixty billion US dollars. That’s without the legit profits from the investments he makes using his clients’ deposits but doesn’t want to share.”

Kaitlyn sat back in her chair. She was a South London girl; she’d boarded an express train going somewhere so she might as well enjoy it.

“He’s a bloody sexy guy,” she said with a broad smile.

“Nothing in the police instruction book says you can’t enjoy your work,” said Shannon.

Chapter 5

Kaitlyn filled her hand luggage suitcase, grabbed her passport, left a quick note about her mother’s health for her housemate and called an Uber cab. She had an address in Kensington and a door key. She’d heard of safe houses but never dreamed she’d need one. Everything about this job was bizarre within her own small experience. She’d done two years plodding the beat and then applied to be a traffic cop because she liked fast cars, motorbikes, trucks, trailers and the smell of oil. Her work and life had been on the level. Now she was avoiding police networks and systems, using her own cellphone, anonymous taxis, and telling stories about her mother. It was late September so she wore her hoodie, sweatshirt, jeans, and trainers. As the Uber driver followed his GPS into Courtfield Gardens, London SW5, a choking swirl of smoke made the driver slow. Perhaps some idiot was burning autumn leaves in the park opposite the curve of beautiful Regency-style houses. She smiled to herself. Normally this would be a job for a traffic cop.

The rear passenger door of the car opened just as a tongue of flame flashed across the street in front of them. The cab stopped.

“Just drive mate. Put your foot down and there’s fifty quid in your pocket.”

Kaitlyn was looking at the breathless form of Randolph Quinn at her side.

“What—?” she began.

“Money solves everything,” he said to her with a smile. “Driver, get out onto the Cromwell Road and head back into town.”

The guy did as he was told. They sped through the smoke, as flames roared from the basement of a house. Randolph glanced back as he pulled a fifty-pound note from his wallet and pushed it into the driver’s shirt pocket.

“I’m as good as my word, mate. Stay calm, keep your mouth shut and you’ll get another one.”

The balding dark-skinned guy looked back in his mirror, something like terror in his eyes.