[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] Rose Lieberman didn’t like to admit this to herself, but she had found it useful to chat with her mother about her case. It had helped clear a few things in her own mind. But one puzzle remained: why was this odd white couple, also known as Claire and yours truly, mixed up with Abdul?

She had to figure out Abdul Bédard-Lellouche and where he fit within the larger organized crime investigation she’d been asked to help with. There was no indication Abdul himself was a patch-wearing gang member or interested in becoming one. But her colleagues in the organized crimes unit were pretty sure he was somehow involved with one of the clubs working under the Rocky Stallions gang, sending them his best – or possibly his craziest – elements in exchange for peace, exclusivity and protection in his small kingdom of Laval-des-Rapides.

Quite what the two of us sick lovebirds were doing mixed up in this story was, to our otherwise bright little cop, the real puzzle. It made no sense at all. She thought we looked soft; she couldn’t imagine us doing anything serious with criminal gangs.

She was right about that. We didn’t have the kind of hardened stomach that sort of life requires. Not at all. I didn’t mind offing old tired folks, but I could not do it if it involved force or trauma. I was exclusively a pill guy. Rose was also puzzled that we didn’t appear to be dealing drugs, either on the street or elsewhere like schools or malls or by special delivery to private customers. Yet here we were, too close to Abdul to be considered just friends.

“Besides,” Rosie reminded herself, “as far as I can tell Abdul doesn’t have any friends…”

Yup. Right about that, too.

She was so stumped by us that she was reduced to asking her mom for help. This was a very uncomfortable reminder that she was a long way from cracking the major crimes investigative unit.

“Rosie! What a nice surprise!” Ruth was always glad to see her daughter on her doorstep. She found it reassuring, somehow.

“Hi, Mom, do you mind if we have another chat about my case?”

Ruth smiled a big great smile, but refrained from crowing. Rosie was always a little insecure about the fact that she still found it useful to rely on her mom, even though she was almost 30 years old.

“I’d love to, if you find it helpful. Let me put on some tea.”

[next chapter]