Alexis Castle eased the silver Mercedes SL Roadster into a diagonal POLICE VEHICLE ONLY stall directly in front of the 12th Precinct. Bringing the Benz to a safe halt between two squad cars, she waited with ill-disguised impatience for her father's girlfriend to appear. Detective 2nd Grade Kate Beckett emerged from the station house doors within moments, donning a pair of designer sunglasses before sliding into the passenger seat. She detached the GPS receiver from the dash and began to program it.
"I'd like to know what going on," declared Alexis. "You ring me up out of the blue, ask me to pick up the Benz from the parking garage and meet you at the precinct. I thought we were having lunch today."
"We'll grab a bite on our way," Kate said distractedly.
"On our way to where, exactly?"
"Mitford, Connecticut. I looked it up on Google just now. Sleepy little town off Route 156 between Old Saybrook and Niantic."
"I took personal leave the rest of the day, with Captain Gates' blessing of course,"
"So this isn't work-related."
"Only in a tangential way."
"That's not real helpful, Kate. Does my dad know we're taking his prize Mercedes on a road trip to the Connecticut Shore?"
"Your father called from the West Coast and asked me to dig up what I could on a man named Cletus Shaver."
"Sounds like a televangelist."
"I contacted the Connecticut State Police and spoke with a Sergeant Vukovich. He describes Shaver as a local eccentric. Lives on a stretch of private beach in a house his mom and dad left him. Keeps to himself, when he isn't showing up at Board of Selectmen meetings to file frivolous complaints that is."
"I see," Alexis said. She didn't, not really. "And what is Dad's interest in him?"
"This Shaver sent a long, rambling e-mail to your father's website claiming he created the Nikki Heat character and demanding his fair share of the royalties. He's threatening to file a suit for theft of intellectual property."
"Kate, I know for a fact Dad doesn't read all his e-mails, let alone respond to them. That's what he pays his assistant Joelle for."
"And Joelle to her credit found the wording of the letter disturbing enough to phone him at once. He in turn called me."
"So what do you plan on doing?"
"Pay Mr. Shaver a courtesy call and see if he's amenable to reason."
"And if not?"
"Warn him that Richard Castle has a pit bull for a personal attorney. Alexis, your father's on a final leg of a successful book tour. He doesn't need petty distractions like this."
"Which brings me back to my earlier question: is my dad aware we're driving up to Connecticut to visit this crank?"
Kate Beckett smiled. "Alexis, you've heard the saying 'better to ask forgiveness than permission'?"
"Dad uses it all the time."
"Exactly." Kate slapped the GPS receiver onto the dash. "Course laid in. Take us out, Sulu."
Cletus Shaver resided at the end of a winding gravel road posted PRIVATE--TRESPASSERS PROSECUTED. The beachfront bungalow inherited from his parents was sturdy but weathered, badly in need of a paintbrush and new shingles. Alexis parked the Mercedes behind a venerable Chevy Silverado pickup leprous with rust, tail gate papered with TRUMP/PENCE stickers.
Alexis laughed uneasily as they approached the house on foot. "You didn't spot any 'Beware of Dog' signs on the way in, did you?"
"Got all the protection I need right here," announced a baritone voice behind them. Both women tensed at the unmistakable metallic rasp of a shotgun round being chambered. "You bitches turn around real slow, keep your hands where I can see 'em."
"Let me do all the talking," Kate whispered. Alexis nodded tautly. They pivoted to see a tall, sinewy man in white sleeveless shirt and faded jeans, sweat-stained cowboy hat canted low over a seamed face. The matte black Benelli 20 gauge in his hands was not pointed directly at them, but at this range it didn't have to be.
Kate willed herself to remain calm; she'd talked her way out of deeper shit than this. "Mr. Shaver, I presume?" she inquired.
"Who wants to know?"
"Detective Katherine Beckett, 12th Squad, New York Police Department."
"And this would be his daughter. Alexis, right? I seen your picture on his Facebook page."
"Mr. Shaver, there's really no need for gunplay," Kate said evenly. "Please put the weapon down."
"You here on account of that e-mail I sent?"
"And you motored up here from New York City thinking I'd be impressed by that shiny gold detective badge. Well, guess what, girlie, this is Connecticut and your badge doesn't mean shit." Shaver paused to angle the cowboy hat back on his balding scalp, revealing eyes so demented Kate knew at once that showing up without an escort of Connecticut troopers had been a serious error in judgment. Oh, shit, he's a meth user. Or he smokes crack. Vukovich left out that little detail.
The coppery taste of fear lay heavy on her tongue.
"Mr. Shaver," she said, "since we've obviously not welcome here, we'll just leave, okay?"
"Too late, bitch. Your punk-ass boyfriend's about to learn the hard way what happens when he sends women to do a man's work. You packing?"
Kate swallowed. "Mr. Shaver, you really need to think this through."
"Answer me, goddamn it!" Shaver leveled the shotgun at Alexis.
"Jesus Christ!" yelped Kate, losing her composure. "Yes, I'm armed!"
"Take it from your holster, make sure you hold the grip between your thumb and forefinger." Kate obeyed in stricken silence. "Set it on the ground and kick it toward me." The .40 Glock skidded along the flagstone path. Shaver knelt and scooped it up. "Now let's have your backup piece. I know all you New York cops carry one." Seconds later the .380 "Baby Glock" Kate wore in a concealment holster strapped to her left ankle was in Shaver's hands as well.
"Mister, please let us go," implored Alexis, her voice breaking on a sob.
"Shut your mouth, bitch. Take Beckett's handcuffs and hook her up nice and tight." Alexis snaked the cuffs from Kate's belt and locked her wrists together at the small of her back. Shaver grinned lewdly. "Step inside, Ladies. Let's get this party started."
Shaver's private pier jutted nearly one hundred feet into Long Island Sound and was in much better repair than the house. Kate Beckett and Alexis Castle would admired the workmanship had they not been (a) stripped naked, (b) bound hand and foot, (c) silenced with silicon ball gags and (d) crotch-roped. The friction of braided hemp rope against their tender inner flesh ramped up their misery quotient tenfold.
"May as well get a snapshot of you for Daddy," said Shaver, framing Alexis in the display of her iPhone. Standing at the edge of the pier, wrists anchored to her spine in a cunning and inescapable box tie, Alexis moaned in despair. Her ankles were shackled to a fifty pound lead weight. Seated atop a nearby equipment locker, Kate strained furiously but to no avail at her bonds. The ropes were cinched brutally tight, the textbook knots beyond reach of her fluttering fingertips. Alexis and I are so fucked,
thought Kate dismally. And I have no one to blame but myself.
"Less'n a minute from now you'll get to watch Castle's little girl on her way to the bottom of Long Island Sound," gloated their psychotic captor. "Thirty feet straight down." He rested his left foot on another fifty pound weight. "You'll be joining her, Detective Beckett, after I take your sweet ass back to the house and tie you down on my bed. You're going to show me a good time before you die."
Once again, apologies to my Watchers (289 at last count!) and readership in general for being away. Real Life can be held at bay only so long. My British partner in bondage mayhem continue to experiment with Davo's Water Works peril software. Feedback is encouraged and welcome.
to visit this Loony Toon? I presume that's what you have in mind."
"Alexis, you've heard the saying 'Better to ask forgiveness than permission,' right? Your dad uses it whenever he risks his ass to follow up on a lead without clearing it with me ahead of time."