A Hard Way to Heaven

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Chapter 7

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow International Airport was a hive of activity in the morning. She checked in with United desk, and made her way through security. She settled in the Presidential lounge and order an apple juice, booted up her laptop, and connection. She wanted to scan the news, and her files one last time to see if there were any new reports. She saw that her Dad had answered her email and informed her that Gregor was settled, and that he had been over to her house to open it up, and fill the fridge.

Her flight would arrive in Newark about 1pm EST, and she would spend the next day or so in NYC, renewing old acquaintances and running some errands. She shot off several emails to friends, hoping to get together and if not, letting them know that she was in the city. The next email was to her Dad's staff at the Brownstone in the Village, alerting them to her arrival. She hesitated over the keys on the next email to her old friend Reggie. She grinned, deciding to surprise him, and closed her email program. She checked a few more details as the clock was winding down to when she had to board. She finished her juice and headed to the gate, settling into first class for the jaunt. She sighed over one good piece of news and that was that no other bodies had been found. She had time.

The plane ride was uneventful and soon she was in a taxi cruising into NYC. The first stop was to see Reggie Whitfield, temper old angers and renew essential friendships. The taxi pulled up to Reggie's office that was an old garage that had an Edsel rusting away in the bay. The place needed a good cleaning, but dust can hide a great deal. It was all for show because Reggie was old school. He played a good game of five-card and never revealed his tell. She liked that about him as she asked the taxi to stay, handing him a fifty. The man scowled at her, clearly unhappy with their current location. She smiled and gave him another fifty. Syn's eyes scanned the street, and chuckled. Two unmarked police cars were parked half-way down the block. Apparently her inquiry for more information had kicked several snakes in the grass. So they knew she was home, big fucking deal. She had work to do.

Syn went around to the side staircase and climbed up to the door. The stairs creaked loudly, and the door even more so used her toe to push it open, moving to the side to lean against the jam. She called out, "Reggie, put that 9mm away and bid me entry."

She heard a drawer open, the drop of a gun, and the drawer closing. A gravelly voice, tarnished by thirty years of smoking called out, "Good lord, Syn come in here and give an old friend a hug."

Syn grinned as she rolled off the jam, and into the doorway, "Have you bathed today?" She heard a chuckle, that turned to a sharp cough, and entered. She sighed quietly, relieved to see him. He looked good, but the cough was a bit worrying. He winked, "You know me so well. How long has it been little girl? Five years, seven?"

"A long four and a half." She entered an office saturated with the smell of cigar smoke and old coffee. "I am glad to see you've cleaned up the place." She knew the only thing cleaned was what lined one wall; a shrine of pictures of Reggie in full NYPD uniform with the titans of NYC government. She walked along the wall, looking.

"What brings you back to the Apple? Last time I heard you were making Glasgow a permanent location."

"Do not bring up old wounds friend. Yes, I would rather be in Glasgow. It's home." She found one picture and turned away, her stomach souring. Reggie Whitefield stood to his six foot two inches in height and crossed the room, straightened the picture she had ignored. It was good to see that he kept in shape.

"That was a good day, you can't deny it."

She crossed the room and sat in an old worn, leather chair. "No, it was a good day, but the subsequent memories, hard."

"Your father was rather proud, no matter what."

She shrugged him off. "That is not what brought me here. Is my permit still good?"

Reggie booted up his laptop and his fingers danced across the keyboard. "Yeah, your good. What are you up to?"

She stood, crossed the room and kissed the cheek of her old family friend, rubbing his shoulder, "Nothing." His eyebrows rose slowly as she tapped his shoulder several times and nodded, dropping a note on his desk. The action was their way of communicating without having to speak. He watched her walk to the door, stood and followed. He stopped at the top of the stairs, watching Syn descend. He crossed his arms, and rubbed his chin as a slow grin split his lips.

Reggie closed the door and walked to the front of the office to look out the window. He watched Syn climb into the back of the waiting cab, and the car drive away. He spied the unmarked police cars sitting a few spaces back and snarled. He walked back to the wall and took down the picture that she had last looked at, rubbing his thumb over the glass. He looked at the three people standing there. Reggie, Syn's father Gordon Macdonald, his best friend, and Syn, in full NYPD blues as her white gloves grasped her promotion to gold shield. His own mind wandered back to happier times and dredged through the worse memories. "God, little girl, I hope you are not biting off more than you can chew."

The ride across the city to the Brownstone hit a snag for about an hour. Syn sat in the back looking up at the buildings that towered above her. She liked New York, loved Glasgow more. She kept the memories at bay of her detective years from corrupting her attitude. She had too much anger for that part of her life, and pushed it back. She vowed to not let those memories haunt her, but sometimes, stupidity and foolishness bite back hard again and again.

Syn shook her head, took a deep breath, pulled out her mini laptop, booting it up, and inserted a secure 4G net-card. She put her Bluetooth earpiece in so she could hear any audio and scanned email. She saw a note from her Dad, wondering when she would be arriving in Port Lewis and sent off a reply. She then logged into Marjorie and found a 'gone fishing sign' swinging where her face should be. She was clearly not a happy camper with Gregor patched into the network. She sent out a code that woke Gregor up, and he pixellated onto the screen and smiled, scowled at the same time, "Get your arse here now. If I hae to wait in this space much longer!"

"Easy cowboy. I missed you too."

"That is hard since you're nothing more than trite digit of code." Marjorie's prim and proper voice said, though a face did not appear on the screen.

"Nice to see, or hear you Marj. Please let Gregor play awhile, I promise to tuck him into bed early."

"Do not make promises you cannot keep Syn, we all know his ego." She spat back.

Syn laughed thinking how much she and her Dad had fun creating the computer entities, sometimes wondering if they had gone too far. She had said, not far enough, and Gordon Macdonald had just rolled his eyes and kept writing code.

"Gregor I need you to go back and visit the theme park. Visit some of the other rides (code talk for broaden the search to other cities, see what he could find). I'll be at Dad's, day after tomorrow perhaps sooner. Now you two play nice."

"Not a fat chance in Ossian's hell." Gregor growled, looking sideways off-screen. "You owe me big time sweet cheeks, big time."

Syn signed off with a big simulated kiss and watched Gregor's face faded from the screen; a scowl still written on his face. She shut down as the cab started crossing familiar streets. One memory surfaced hard, and she swallowed the melancholy emotion. It was not far from here where her Mother had been killed by a drunk driver, and subsequently as a result, she had given up her gold shield.

The taxi rolled to a stop, double-parked in front their family brownstone. A man stepped down from the front door, smiling broadly. He was all of five foot four inches in height, with lank brown hair, but he knew his business. He was a butler of the old school, educated in England in some of the finer homes, and snagged by her father from a friend during a visit and a day of grouse hunting. Henry McKay opened the taxi door and greeted Syn cheerfully. He handed the taxi another hundred, and pulled her luggage from the trunk all the time rolling off a host of gossip about the neighbors. She loved the man dearly, and gave him a big old hug before climbing the stairs to enter the foyer. He steered her into the front room, "We were glad you sent us an email, your Father is redoing some of the rooms."

"Good thing then, I can tell you what not to do. His tastes are somewhat, one-sided."

Henry laughed. "Don't we know it? Anyway Mary will be glad you are here, she has been baking all day since I logged off the computer. She made your favorites."

Syn smiled, happily, "Cinnamon rolls?"

"Of course."

Henry enjoyed the pure joy on Syn's face, "And we thought a barbecue up on the roof tonight after you have rested."

"Sounds like a plan. Am I in my old room?"

"Yes you are and you will be happy to note that your Father has actually done a good job in its refurbishment. He has installed a nice wet room and claw footed tub just like you have in Glasgow. I think he said, it is the same, as your home there."

Syn's wanted to dance a reel with Henry, "He did like that shower, glad he got the hint. I am going to go up and shower, relax a bit before tonight. I just need to use Dad's computer in his study for a minute."

"Very good Syn. I'll take up your bags and tell Mary you are here, bring you up a sandwich and tea."

"Sounds great."

She watched Henry climb the stairs before turning down the hall to her father's study. She opened the door and breathed in lemon and beeswax, familiar heart warming scents. She recalled the memories of her and her sister, Kitty, as they climbed all over their father as he sat in the leather high back chair. She crossed to one side of the room, to a bookcase of Scottish classical literature, found Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, and took it down, spying the little thumb-pad behind it. She depressed her thumb onto the scanner and the bookcase clicked open. She wiped the pad, the book clean and put it back in its slot. She stepped to a large wall safe and aligned her eye, seeing, feeling the scanner cross over her retina. The safe room clicked open and stepped inside. Syn crossed to another safe and punched a number, going through another retina scan. The door punched open, the pneumatic lock hissing as it came free.

A host of safety deposit boxes of various sizes greeted her. Several other boxes, and odd items sat on the floor, too big for any box. She stepped to one, and depressed her thumb on the pad. The door clicked open, and Syn pulled out an old friend, a Glock 17, several clips and a side holster. She slipped it under her shirt, onto her belt and stepped out of the safe, reaching for the door handle. Her eyes alighted on several paintings, and looked away quickly for the regret and deep guilt that gripped her body. Her mother's beautiful face, and twinkling sapphire blue eyes stared back. They seemed to follow her as she closed the door. Syn sighed leaning her forehead against the closed metal door, "Sorry Mom..."

She blinked back the tears, and ensured all the safeties were initiated before wiping everything down, leaving no physical evidence of her entry. She left the library and made it to her room, hiding the gun and its accessories in her own small safe by her bed, when knuckles rapped on a door, and a familiar female voice called out.

She smiled, home at last.

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