FBI Commander Irene Lindstrom’s POV
Sons of Tezcatlipoca Task Force HQ- Los Angeles
I’d flown in overnight and met my team this morning. The LA Task Force was three times the size of the Orlando one, although about half of the original task force was following me here. We were focusing on the apprehension of the Sons, especially their missing leadership, and fleshing out the RICO case against them.
When the information on Frank Grimes had come in while I was in Orlando, I was shocked. I liked Frank; he made turnover pleasant and didn’t put up any of those silly interagency barriers. He laid out what he had, turned over his team, and left. I asked around this morning, and the reactions were either disbelief and anger. The closer the person knew Frank, the less likely they were to believe he betrayed them. To them, the idea of him tipping off the Sons about the raids coming was incomprehensible. “The Sons killed his men, and it ate him up,” the acting DEA Director told me. “The loss of life in the raids? He took that hard. He’s retiring because he can’t do this anymore,” he said.
My theory was a little different. I didn’t believe for a second that Frank Grimes would help the Sons escape, but there were more players around than just the Sons. The biker gang worked with the Sinaloa cartel, and there were constant turf wars with other cartels. Someone had taken out six men in the building at the other end of the tunnel, and it had all the characteristics of a Cartel Rip Crew. These were highly trained mercenaries, drawn from Mexican and other nation’s Special Forces, tasked with stealing from rival Cartels and killing their members.
It was genius; they work through Frank Grimes to get us to take on the bulk of the Sons, while they go for the hidden target. It wasn’t drugs, so it was guns, money or people.
The Sinaloa Cartel’s major enemy was the Juarez Cartel, who had been slowly losing the bloody war over territory and smuggling routes since 2007. Some estimates put the number of dead in this war at over thirteen thousand people. The Sinaloa used violent gangs to go after the Juarez-controlled drug pipelines, so it was also possible the Sons had made other enemies. Of course, Los Angeles was the district where the ultra-violent Tijuana Cartel operated; perhaps they compromised Frank like the Sinaloa Cartel had compromised the Director in San Francisco.
We had dozens of active cases involving high-ranking law enforcement, all of which had been provided by Frank Grimes’ source. Was that source the Tijuana Cartel?
I wasn’t going to look past Frank’s actions in hurting the Sons of Tezcatlipoca if it meant a different Cartel gained from it. We had people crawling all over his history right now; his finances, the cases that went through his office, his communications, and his travel. There was a knock on my door; it was one of the FBI members on his case. “I got a call from the Minneapolis office; you have to hear this, Boss,” she said. I waved in my top deputies as she left.
“Transfer it to my phone.” She went back to her desk, and my phone rang. “Commander Lindstrom, you’re on speaker with my Task Force.”
“Ma’am, this is Special Agent Craig Norris with the Minneapolis FBI office. We’ve been asked to keep tabs on Director Grimes as he passed through the Minneapolis airport.”
“Go ahead, Agent Norris. Did he board his flight to Minot?”
“No, that flight was canceled. Grimes booked a flight to Duluth that left ten minutes ago. I stationed myself near him as he waited, and as he boarded the flight. His ticket sat him next to a woman he was talking to in the gate. They pretended they didn’t know each other, but I didn’t buy it once I learned her name.”
“Why is that?”
“Her name is Colletta Nygaard, age forty-seven. Driver’s license has her living in Naches, Washington. She’s the mother of Chase Nygaard, the man who spoke at the funeral service in Orlando.”
Holy mother of God. “And the one we know has been in contact with Frank Grimes in Florida.” I looked at my team. “I want surveillance on Frank Grimes, and get me wiretap warrants for Chase Nygaard and his wife… what was her name?”
“Rori King,” someone said.
“That’s it. I want detailed backgrounds on both Chase and Rori; the link we’re looking for must be there. Something like this can’t be just chance.” I dismissed them to their work and went back to the reports. I had a brief with the Attorney General in ten minutes, and I had to figure out how much I wanted to say about this.
Colletta Nygaard’s POV
Delta Flight to Duluth
The flight was short, and my stomach was doing backflips over the story Frank was telling me about my son and his mate. “Let me back up and summarize this so I can understand it. You recruited and ran an undercover agent early in your career who took down a biker gang. After he changed his name and retired, the gang leader found him and brutally killed him and his wife.”
“Yes, and they shot his daughter, then kidnapped and killed her the next week.”
“So you end up in Orlando, and my son Chase approaches you. He says he will help you take down the Sons and keep the Steel Brotherhood from escalating this into a gang war after the Sons attacked their clubhouse. You agree, and he sends you information a few days ago that leads directly to a drug raid in Oakland. After that, he hands you financial information that proves the Sons chapters are laundering their drug money, and that’s enough to get RICO warrants.”
“Yes; his information was spot-on, we were able to verify it and get warrants quickly so we could raid all the Chapters.”
I nodded. “Chase told you that his source was inside the LA clubhouse and asked for a heads up so he could get his man out of there. You texted him that the raid would be at six, which is the reason for your suspension; they think you tipped off the Sons and men got killed as a result. Then you find out someone hit a warehouse you didn’t know about at the same time you hit the Clubhouse, stealing something and killing six more people. You think Chase knew about the tunnel and the warehouse, and he let the leadership escape by not telling you about the tunnel.”
He nodded. “The thought that I trusted him, just to have him betray me, hurts the worst. I need to look in his eyes and ask him what happened.”
I looked at him; he was a good man, with a distinguished law-enforcement career, and in a day, all that had poofed like a soap bubble. His reputation, his retirement, and his liberty were all at risk. I saw the news reports of the raids and the deaths of the officers involved. It was the nature of humans to find a scapegoat. Right now, Frank had a red piece of yarn tied around his figurative horn as the US Attorney in his white suit walked him to the cliff. They’d destroy him and sleep like babies. “I can’t believe my boy would betray you, his Club or his family,” I said. “He lost friends in Orlando, too.”
“I know he did, I was at the services, and I saw how emotional he was. That’s why I decided to see him in person. If he didn’t tell them, I need to find out why the Sons knew we were coming.” He took a drink of his Coke and smiled at me. “I also need to know because it would be awkward to be dating his mother if he was the one who stabbed me in the back.”
I gasped softly, bringing my hand to my chest. “Is that a left-handed way of asking me to dinner, Frank?”
“It’s not the smoothest line, but yes. I’ve been attracted to you since you first spoke, and I’d like the chance to know you better. I have a day or two until I can get out to Minot, so the company of a beautiful woman would be appreciated.” He reached his hand over mine, his thumb rubbing lightly. “I hope I’m not too forward; I can’t stand to let you just walk away from me without giving us a chance.”
He wasn’t. I felt the same thing, and I told him so. Since Will had gone feral after I left him, I’d been lonely. I spent some time with Charles before he died, and with him died any chance of finding a second mate. My wolf wasn’t interested anymore, and I wasn’t likely to find someone. I was an Alpha female (Retired), with no Pack of my own, and on the wrong side of a hundred and fifty. I was too powerful a wolf for anyone but an Alpha or Beta, but those wolves already had mates. It was rare for an Alpha to be widowed and seek another, and if they did, it would be a younger female who could give them children. I wasn’t a Trophy Wolf, and mating me would not gain them power.
I was still a woman, a woman with needs, and my human side liked Frank a lot. He was strong and confident, the kind of Alpha personality that my wolf respected. A dalliance with him would go nowhere, and it wouldn’t involve Pack politics or Council plays either. I could date him, bed him, and let him go back to California. Maybe he could be what the kids today referred to as a “booty call?” What the hell, I could afford to go to Los Angeles once in a while to get my itch scratched.
I turned my hand over, allowing his fingers to interlock with mine as I leaned into his shoulder. “Your plan sucks, you know,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“Do you have a hotel? A rental car? Have you checked the forecast in Duluth?”
“No, no, and no,” he said.
I looked up at his eyes, squeezing his hand. “The blizzard is going to arrive soon, and nothing will move for two days after that. All the hotels will be full, and rental cars will be out as flights are delayed or canceled. You’re going to be stuck in the airport unless you allow me to take you home.”
“I thought you lived in Washington?”
“I split my time between my boys, and my rooms in Chase and Rori’s house are my own. I have a car meeting me at the airport, and I insist you accompany me to Arrowhead as my guest. We can clear up this Chase thing, and we’ll have two days snowed in together to explore this attraction between us.”
“Chase and Rori won’t mind me just showing up?”
“Of course not. My son’s home has plenty of spare room. You already know each other, and it wouldn’t be a bother at all. When the weather clears, I’ll drive you to the airport so you can go to Minot and visit your grandchildren.”
He thought about it for less than a second. “I accept,” he said with a smile. He put his hand on my cheek, and I leaned into the warmth. His eyes drew me in, and I licked my lips as he leaned down closer. His fingers pulled me to him, and I moaned in pleasure as I had my first kiss in a long time.
It was perfect, dominant enough to make me feel his passion, yet gentle and patient for me. I could tell he would be a great lover from this one kiss. “Good. I’d hate to have to kidnap you and hold you captive in my lair.”
“You have a lair too? What are the chances of that?” We laughed together, then had to put the armrest down and our seats up for landing. The flight was so short that the plane barely got to cruising altitude before it started descending again.
We got off the plane in the small airport, and of course, the airlines had left Frank’s bag in the pile of luggage going to Minot. He didn’t have any recourse; no more flights were coming because of the storm. I told him he wouldn’t need much in the way of clothes, which caused him to bust out laughing. “I may be cheap, but I’m not easy,” he tried to complain. “I hope your lair has shaving cream and deodorant.”
“Come on, we’ve got everything you need at home.” He picked up my checked bag then offered his hand to me. I took it, walking out through baggage claim. I waved at a big Ford Expedition that was waiting for me, and the driver pulled up in front of us. A woman jumped out to open the back door for her. “Thank you, Bonnie,” I said.
“Welcome back, ma’am,” she said.
“Bonnie, Charlie, this is my friend Frank Grimes, he will be joining me while he waits out the storm. Frank, this is Bonnie and Charlie Newstead, they work security up at Arrowhead, including working dogs.”
He shook their hands with a smile. “I think I’ve seen you before, Charlie.”
“I was down in Orlando for a while before the Clubhouse attack, running one of our dogs. I saw you there with the other investigators. What a mess.”
He pulled out into traffic as Bonnie handed me a tall cup from Caribou Coffee. “I wish I had known you had a guest or I would have gotten Frank one. Do you want to stop?”
“No, please get us home before the storm hits. It looked ugly from the air. Can you call back and let them know we’re on the way?”
“Certainly, Ma’am.” The clouds had rolled in, and the skies were getting darker. I showed Frank the sights and told him the cover story for the compound while we drove. “Chase and Rori own a big place overlooking a point on Arrowhead Lake. It’s beautiful. My daughter and her husband are in the adjoining home to the south, and Rori’s mother and stepmother are a few more houses down the lake.”
“That’s convenient for you,” he said. “Do you have any more grandchildren?”
“Not yet. My oldest boy Sawyer, he just got married about eighteen months ago. My middle boy hasn’t found the right woman yet. I didn’t expect my youngest would give the grandbabies first, but I’ll take it.” It wasn’t a long drive, and we were pulling past the open gate and onto the road heading for the lake homes. “It’s like a postcard, isn’t it?”
Frank’s mouth dropped open as he looked at the scene. The homes along the lakeshore covered in snow, Christmas lights twinkling from the eaves. Overlooking the point, the Pack House dominated the area, with a huge Christmas tree visible through the picture window looking over the lake. “This place is fantastic,” he said.
“It’s an exclusive resort. It offers all the winter fun; snowmobiling, ice fishing, skiing or ice skating, and then you can head into the main building for a big meal before relaxing with a drink by the pool.”
“It’s exclusive how? Expensive?”
“The lifestyle, Frank. Around here it’s common to see people with or without clothes around.” Might as well get it out, he was going to notice the first time we went to the pool. And we WERE going to the pool.
“You.” He looked at me. “They.” He looked over at the big pool area and pointed. “They’re nudists?”
“They are nice people, and they like their privacy. I don’t want you to be shocked the first time you see a bare ass walking by. I assume you’ve seen them before?” He nodded. “Good, because nobody will care if they see your bare ass either.”
“Ma’am, Rori texted back and said she and Doctor Nygaard are in the clinic,” Bonnie said. She must have linked them since I had kept my walls up, not ready to talk to Chase just yet.
“Fine, drop us there and have my bag brought to my room,” I said. Charlie turned on the road leading away from the lake and pulled in front of our small clinic. “Thank you for picking us up, we’ll see you tonight?”
“Of course, we’d never miss the Beach Party. We’re going to wait out the storm in the pool with the others,” she said.
I led Frank into the waiting room, which was empty. “Chase? It’s Mom!”
He and Rori walked out of an exam room; she was pulling her shirt down around her jeans. Chase froze as he spotted us. “Frank?”
“We all need to talk, Chase,” I said.
“And I need to know the truth,” Frank added.