[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] Following Abdul Bédard-Lellouche around wasn’t the hard part. What had Rosie Lieberman stumped was figuring out how she’d document his activities without being smoked. I didn’t work for a dummy.

“Maybe,” she thought one day, “what I need to do is get closer to him…”

It sounded like a joke to her, too, at least the first time she thought of it. “Yeah, right. Like it’s a good idea to go flirt with your suspect.” But Rosie was a pretty young woman, not strikingly beautiful but very lovely, at least for a cop, and she usually had no trouble getting a man’s attention.

She hadn’t seriously considered the possibility of befriending Abdul, and was trying to figure out a way to find out what he was up to that was more efficient than just sitting in her car outside his apartment, when the impossible happened.

It was a sunny Tuesday morning and she’d followed him to the Carrefour Laval where he’d gone into the electronics store with a laptop under his arm. She was pretending to look at the kitchen tools and cutlery in the Benix when her phone buzzed. It was her boss.

“Hey, anything new on your prey? Some people keep asking me…” Raymond Bouthilier wasn’t overly worried about their conversation being tapped by organized gangs, but part of being a good cop was always to be conscious of operational security. Not using names, including his own, had long become second nature. Plus Bouthilier kinda liked sounding hush-hush like in the TV shows.

“Yeah, I know. Not really, sorry. I think this one knows what he’s doing. He’s very, ah,” she was looking for a good word that would mean “careful and knowledgeable about police proceeding” without using those words. “He’s, well, you know. He’s not making my life easy, if you get my meaning.”

Rosie had been working so hard at finding the right way to express what she wanted to tell her boss without sounding like a cop reporting to another cop that she failed to notice Abdul getting out of the store, his phone to his ear, no laptop under his arm. He looked like he was in a pretty big hurry, but of course Rose failed to notice that as well. For a young woman, she was singularly unskilled at multitasking.

“OK, when you get back to the shop I’ll need you to come with me to the other side of the building to talk to our friends yourself. They’re starting to sound …”

“HEY!!!” Rosie exclaimed as she was pushed down to the ground.

“Rosie, are you OK?” Bouthilier immediately wanted to kick himself for shouting her name, even though he’d tried to sound casual, like a boyfriend or co-worker would. It was rarely a good development when one of his cops got caught by surprise and thrown to the ground. And even though he was supposed to be emotionally detached from his agents the truth was that Raymond Bouthilier was old-fashioned enough to feel protective about his female cops, especially the younger ones.

In any case, it hardly mattered since Rose’s phone had fallen to the floor and landed face down and slid away from Rose, which meant nobody’d heard Bouthilier’s shout. He couldn’t really hear what was happening either, and he was starting to hyperventilate when the phone got picked up by a little four-year-old girl who brought it to her mom. Bouthilier went dead silent.

“Thank you for picking it up, honey. Let’s give it back to … oh!”

Rosie was quite the sight. It wasn’t just her phone that landed face down on the hard floor of the mall. Fortunately her cop training had come in handy and she’d managed to break her fall a bit, but not enough to prevent the nosebleed that was making a mess of her blouse. She’d always been susceptible to nosebleeds. The little kid screamed.

“No, no, don’t cry little girl,” Rosie said as she tried to smile while speaking loud enough so her boss on the other end of the phone could hear she was fine. “I’m not hurt for real. I just banged my nose on the floor and it’s bleeding, that’s all.”

“I’m sooooo sorry,” Abdul said for the third time since slamming into the woman who was spying on him. “Here,” he took the phone from the mother’s hand, had a quick look at it and gave it back to Rose, “here’s your phone. It’s not cracked.” Rose gave herself silent praise for disguising the identity of her boss in her phone contacts as “Joe”. “Can I do something about your nose? Do you need me to get help?”

Rose Lieberman was using her fine brain to weigh her options. Should she keep him around her longer, or send him on his way? What could be gained by engaging him, versus the risks of being discovered as a cop and ruining her surveillance operation? She only had a moment or two to decide…

“No, I’ll be fine. The bleeding is pretty much done. I’ll just go home and change.”

“I’m soooo sorry. Can I please give you money to buy a new shirt? I feel responsible. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going, I’m sorry. Here, I have about $80 on me, do you think that would cover it?”

Raymond Bouthilier was straining hard at the other end of the line, as though he could somehow communicate his instructions to her if he scrunched up his face hard enough. “No!” He thought. “Don’t take the money! Get his prints on your phone!!! Get him to touch your phone!!!”

Bouthilier ought not to have overstrained himself so. Rose had already noticed how Abdul had put his big fingers all over her iPhone. She knew she had his prints and that this would allow her to make huge progress in her investigation. Now all she had to do was avoid raising suspicion in her target, and she had to act like a normal woman would in her circumstances.

“Oh,” she looked down at herself. “No, this isn’t an expensive blouse. $40 would be plenty, thanks.” She took the cash he handed her and let him be on his way.

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