Syn and Akir drove in silence, navigating the streets of Port Lewis, and out into the west suburbs, to the very edge of town. A host of questions were running amok in her mind, all based on his presence in her hometown. The proverbial six monikers, why, what, where, when, how, and what for pinged through her gray matter. She turned down another lane, passed nice looking houses, with expansive, well manicured lawns, and stole a glance at her passenger. She caught him staring at her at one point, and then averted his eyes to the scenery outside the SUV’s windows. She heard the rustle of his clothes as he shifted in the seat, sometimes turning and looking over his shoulder. What or who was he looking for?
Akir counted only a half dozen street lamps that illuminated the street. Very secluded and rich by the architecture of the houses. He glanced in the rear-view mirror and found the street deserted. All the owners, and their families were tucked up nice and cozy in their houses. The dub-tap of the turning switch broke the silence, and Syn turned into a forest. The trees were a mix of old and new saplings, thick and heavy sheltering a single lane road. He felt the slight upgrade in elevation as the Highlander took one turn, and then another. They approached a gate, and Syn depressed open a small hidden panel, and hit a switch. The gate swung open, allowing the Highlander to continue. Akir turned and looked over his shoulder to the gate illuminated by the red tail lights. Nothing followed.
“Yup.” One word was all she offered. Akir turned, and looked at Syn’s face softly lit by the electronic dashboard. Her lips were pursed, and brow furrowed, clearly annoyed. She was rolling her lower lips together, and as she let them go, blood rushed into the flesh, tinting them dark burgundy color. He looked away quickly, and just as quickly back, shifting in his seat. Her skin was flawless, with a brush of freckles along her cheek. God, she was beautiful.
They crested the hill, and a three-story tall square building emerged out of the darkness. Floodlights snapped on, blinding Akir for a moment. The building looked like an old school that had been renovated into a home. The crowning piece was a large stain glass arched window over two double front doors. He was impressed as Syn drove around the side, and hit another button. The garage door inched upward, and a light flicked on. Syn drove into the underground garage, and pulled into a space. She turned off the ignition, and sat there. He could tell she was mulling something over.
“Why are you here?” She unhooked her seatbelt, let it slide back.
“It’s a long story.” Akir took off his seatbelt, hearing the garage door crawling downward behind them. His phone vibrated in his inside breast pocket, and fished out the device, seeing the same area code for Port Lewis. “I hae to take this.” He hit the connection, “Hold fast.”
Syn’s anger deepened. This intrigue was staggering, and she hated the darkness that followed a lack of information. She disengaged the locks, stepped out the SUV, and slammed the door shut, storming off towards another door. He sighed, answered, wondering, "Go."
It was a deep brogue, and could be only one person. "Gordon?"
Gordon sighed deeply, "I ken ye are here."
"I thought they would let ye know that. Are you going to interfere?" He watched her disappear through a door, and got out of the SUV, and paced at the end of the Highlander.
"No, I want you to catch him, stop him after all he has done."
Akir's slight chuckle sent a shiver up Gordon's spine, "Aye."
A few heart beats of silence passed, "Syn..."
"I willna lie to her Gordon. She remembers that night, but I ken ye ran all those years ago, and why. Not that I dinna blame ye, after all the death. She doesna know about the family does she?"
"No, I dinna want her or Kitty to know. There is something ye should ken?"
"Promise me something."
"Depends on what ye want me to promise ye?" Akir offered.
Gordon could hear the tightness in his answer. "Promise me that ye will take care of her. Ye are her match, her equal."
Akir frowned, wondering what he meant by her equal. What did he expect? “I’m nae sure what ye mean?”
Gordon hated Akir's hesitation, worried that he would refuse. "Duncan told me what you want to do, how you want to change things. I agree with you. I wanted to, but Anna…” Gordon trailed off. “It is the right path Akir, and Syn would be…just promise me that you will take care of MEINN.”
Akir heard the emphasis in that last word, but with his current track record, life was a toss up; a statistical game of probabilities. But he had pledged his life to their family, and couldn’t turn Gordon down. “I promise…gealltanas, to ye and yours."
He sighed, relieved, "Thank ye."
"Are ye going to help us?"
"No, I need to stay as far from this as possible. Is Darroc coming?" Gordon was referring to Dac the bràithrean’s technical guru.
"Aye, he should be here in another day."
"I will be sending ye both several packages. Use them wisely, and I hae linked our special kids to Syn’s house. Ye hae full access, security protocols in place. She will be mad with me, take her temper."
"Thank ye, I will." Akir cut the connection, added Gordon’s number to his contacts, and created a quick link for speed dial. He understood Gordon’s reference to the computer entities Syn, and Gordon had created. He was in awe of there abilities, their skills, and knew from all the reports about these computer creations could be useful. He started for the door, wondering how he was going to explain their family to Syn?
Lights flickered on as Syn moved past the sensors in the basement landing. Chlorine from the indoor lap pool tingled her nose as she climbed up the stairs to the ground floor. She opened the door into the kitchen, and heard Akir’s footfalls on the stairs. She dropped her keys on the granite top of the center island, and made a bee line for a sideboard, her eye on the bottle of Macallan whisky.
Akir was impressed with the open style of Syn’s house. Simple, cozy. “Have a seat.” She waved at the couch in front of a massive stone fire place. His fingers caressed through a sheepskin throw, laying across the back of the couch. The hide reminded him of his home in Scotland; a small space in Edinburgh he rarely used. He looked up, watched her back, watched her fingers remove the tie to her ponytail, and a bolt of pure raw lust shot through his body. His mind envisioned her beneath him laying repine upon this very throw, his hips pounding against hers. He took a deep breath, pushed his lustful thoughts back into the deep recesses of his mind.
Syn grabbed two crystal tumblers and filled them with two fingers of Macallans’, and returned to the couch. He was crouched before the fireplace, building a pretty good fire. He had removed his suit coat, loosened his tie and removed it, and thrown both over the back of the couch. There was a pistol in a holster at his waist. She guessed a Sig Sauer. Why not make yourself at home dude, Syn thought, unnerved. He stood, and reached for the tumbler. Their fingers brushed, and something hot melted her insides. Time was suspended as they stood there looking at each other. Her open space was pretty big by house standards, but he filled the place. She felt such a chill when he removed his fingers, and tightened her gripped on her own glass, shaking off the attraction. She took a sip of the whisky, thinking that his explanation better be good.
Akir cursed the Elders for their rules, and this long standing feud. Why the hell couldn’t he have a normal life? He had to remember he had a job to do, ignore his libido. Damn their rules. It was time they started breaking them all, and shift gears. He knew deep down people would be hurt, and lose their lives. He, Syn could be two of them. But when was the last time he had truly lived. He couldn’t remember. He watched her sashay to the couch, sit, tuck her legs beneath her. His heartbeat accelerated with the thought of what he was about to do. Might as well dive off the cliff. “I ken your father.”
“Excuse me?” Syn’s mouth dropped open, blinked.
“Aye, where to begin?” Suddenly he didn’t know what to say, how to approach this. “Your family and mine ken each other a long time. And your father knows, as I do, who is killing all these girls.”
Syn shook her head, “These girls…wait a minute back up, rewind. My father knows who is killing these girls?”
“Aye, as do I. I hae been trying to catch him for a long time. Your mother wasna killed by a drunk driver, but by our mutual enemy.” She was shocked, and he took a fortifying drink, “I am nae explaining this right.”
“Clearly.” She lifted her tumbler and downed a good swallow of the Macallan’s. The power of the twenty-five-year-old Scotch stole her breath. She coughed, “What the hell…what the hell are you talking about?”
“We are distant cousins, several layers removed. I am a Glenaire Macleod, and your father is descended from the Ban Gaoth Macdonalds. Long past our families were united by marriage. We fought a common enemy that was out to destroy our family. That family today is called Louvella.”
Her eye narrowed, questioning. She had heard that name, “The shipping line?”
“A ruse to hide their true nature.”
“Hold on there buster. I investigated my mother’s death. I saw the evidence, and my mother was killed by a drunk driver.” She said defensively. He was calling into question her work, and if this was so, she had wrongly condemned a man to a lifetime in prison.
“That is what your father wanted ye to believe.”
She rose started to pace, “My father…my father wouldn’t dare interfere in my work.”
“Not entirely, but our family would. He had to report her death to our Elders, and action was taken. I can tell you that evidence was manipulated so that ye would come to that conclusion.”
She stood, snapped out, “If that is the case, do you know what you have done? Every arrest, every man, and woman I have put away, each case will be scrutinized and my credibility is shot. I might as well take my own gun and bite it.”
Akir turned on her, snarling, “Dinna e’er say that again. Do ye understand me?”
She shouted at him, angrily, stepping toe to toe with him, “What is it to you? And why should I believe you?”
Akir matched her anger, “And if ye dinna believe me, call your father.” He fished out his phone, and handed it to her. “Here use my phone, he’s on speed dial.”
Her hand shook as she took his phone, and saw her father’s private number, and cursed, “Fuck!” She hit the number and waited for it to connect. Her father’s voice came over the line, and she froze. What did she say?
“Akir?” Gordon repeated after a few seconds of silence, “Akir?”
Her eyes widened at the mention of Akir’s name, and she keened deeply. Her father’s voice turned desperate, clearly recognizing her moan, “Syn? Syn is that ye? Listen to me, listen verra carefully. Ye can trust him, trust his word. What I did, I did because I loved ye, your sister and your mother. I wanted ye to survive this horrible feud. I wanted ye to hae a life. And I was wrong, wrong to think I could escape them. Your mother’s death is all my fault. I should hae stayed with the family, stronger together, weaker apart. Do ye hear me, we are stronger together, weaker apart love. The only way to stop this madman is to let Akir, and his bràithrean handle this. Do ye hear me, please Syn, tell me ye understand?” She gave him silence, unable to utter a word.
“Och Syn, I love ye and your sister so much. If anything were to happen to ye, to the both of ye, I canna go on. Akir will protect ye. He is your match in e’erything. Just listen to him, please. If ye need proof, turn to Marg. And gie her this command, white tower. She will ken what to do, and open up Gregor’s files that I hae put on the server. Please Syn, believe me, trust me.” There was a protracted pause, and she could hear his emotions, “Just remember that I…I love ye. I love ye Syn.” The phone went dead, and Syn looked up, feeling such betrayal, such anguish. She threw his phone at him, and turned on her heel towards her computer room.
She stormed down the hall, and threw open the door, and heard it close behind her. The lights flared to life, and she yelled out, “Marg you there?”
“Yes I am Syn.”
She groaned, “Have you always been here?”
There was a heartbeat of silence, “Yes.”
She inwardly cursed, “White tower Marg.”
“Yes Syn. Gregor execute bòid-fala.” Marg commanded. “Akir, are you there?”
Syn’s mouth dropped open. When had Gregor been untethered and installed back in her home? Wasn’t when, but by whom. Why even ask, knowing it was her father. Her fingers curled together, and she snarled. “Gregor!”
“Aye Marg, hello Syn.” Sometimes that pretentious, arrogant voice more than irritated her. Syn growled as Akir stepped into the room, closed the door. She felt the blood drain from her face. She had closed the door, and the only way into the room was from a retinal scan. She keened, her father had set up the house. He had inputted Akir’s retinal pattern into the security. She turned on him, and closed the distance, and stepped forward, raising her hand.
Akir saw the intent in Syn’s eyes, caught her wrist before she could do anything. He gently lowered her hand. “Dinna…just listen to me, to this. If ye want to live, just listen.”
“Stand in line and take a number sweetheart.” He leaned down in her face, “You’re not the only one after my ass. But I need you to hear this. Those innocent people out there need ye to hear this.”
Marg cleared her throat, “I need your security clearance Akir...”
“Madadh-allaidh dubh d' t-Eilean Sgitheanach, Tynan, Torin, Ran, Roric, 1516.” Syn's eyes widened as his face, his body was suddenly bathed with colorful light. She found it hard to avert her eyes, his eyes had lightened to the color of cold hard, steel with a hint of green. Mesmerizing. Audio files erupted in the background, and broke her gaze. Her mother’s voice echoed from the speakers. She turned, her computers alive, fixed on what was happening as her mother’s voice faded to the background, and her father’s emerged. She wasn’t listening as her SMART Boards, every monitor, and her desk displayed files, and images opened. They zoomed across the boards into some order and her heart rate increased as her father’s image appeared beside that of her mother’s within a genealogy chart.
Akir walked forward, pointing at the top of the chart, “We are descended from Ljótr, through Sìol Tormoid, and his descendant, Akir. Akir was the first Glenaire Macleod. All we ken of this feud, that we battle to this day, was that one bràthair fell out with the other, argued over the leadership of the clan. We canna be certain. Akir stayed on at Glenaire and his bràthair Gair, his family strove to bring us low. As our family prospered, theirs suffered.” He crossed to the one SMART board and used his fingers to expand the genealogy chart of her family. “Your father is one of the original Nine. They are descendent from one of the strongest Laird’s to govern our family, Lucian Lorne Macleod through his daughter Aelwen. She had married Ranulf Macdonald, the laird of Ban Gaoth.”
“The White Tower.” Syn translated, moved closer, shakily seeing the truth of it before her eyes. Her father and her family had done the worse, manipulating the evidence in her mother’s death. Oh, God, her life as a cop was over. The bottom dropped out, and she staggered to a chair.