The sweet smell of sugar filled my nostrils.
“This is serious. It’s gonna be real dangerous, you know?”
I leaned back in my seat, my arms crossed and my thoughts empty. The only thing keeping me conscious was the growing scent of sweetness.
“They’re taking a real risk with you. I don’t know why they’d risk you of all people. You’re a good man.”
I shifted my eyes toward the older man sitting across from me. He picked up the powdered donut and took a nice, big bite out of it. The powdered sugar covered his mouth so much that when he licked his lips, there was still some white on his mustache.
Everything he ate, he always seemed to savor it. Right now wasn’t an exception. Judging from his gut, you knew he savored everything he ate. Not that I held his weight against him. Just from the look in his eyes, you saw a wealth of experience. That was more important to me than anything else.
“What are you talking about?” I said.
“You know what I’m saying.”
“I don’t,” I said with a laugh. “I really don’t.”
“Come on, kid. You’re not that stupid.”
“It’s always dangerous. I don’t see why this time is any different.”
“Take my advice. When Lee takes as long as she does, it means she’s up to something.”
“Whatever you say—”
“Hey. Don’t take it lightly. I’m serious.”
“I know you are. But that doesn’t change anything. You and I still have a job to do.”
“Right now, my only job is finishing this donut.”
He took another massive bite of his sugary treat and gave me a wink. I couldn’t help but smile at how satisfied he was.
Sanders was a rare breed. He was big, his gut extending out and stretching his uniform that you wondered how the buttons didn’t pop off. The skin on his face was wrinkled in a way that always made him seem tired. The little hair that he had left was thin and gray. Despite all of that, he knew how to handle himself better than anybody. I’d only known him for so long but I learned quickly that he really did know what he was talking about.
“Why don’t you have a donut?” he said.
“Still not interested.”
“I know you’re interested. You wouldn’t have bought them otherwise.”
“I didn’t buy them for me. I bought them for you. Besides, I know they’re your favorite.”
“Powdered. Jelly-filled. Classic glazed. There’s not a donut you can go wrong with.”
He finished the last bite of his donut then let out a contented sigh. He didn’t hesitate in picking up another one. The jelly squeezed out the other end as soon as he took a bite out of it.
“I don’t know how you do it,” I said.
“Eat like that and still manage to do your job.”
“My body can handle it, that’s why. I bet they told you a bunch of junk at the academy about staying in good shape.”
“Staying in good shape isn’t junk.”
“True. But there’s no need to push yourself as hard as you do, Mr. Six-Pack Abs.”
“When we’re out there, we put our lives on the line. I want every advantage I can get. I couldn’t care less about six-pack abs. I just don’t want to run out of gas when I need it the most. You should feel the same way.”
“Why should I when I’ve got someone like you to do all the work for me?”
“I’m beginning to regret buying you those donuts. Maybe I should take them away…”
I jokingly grabbed the box between my fingertips. Sanders widened his eyes at me. If I didn’t know him so well, you would’ve thought he was serious.
“Don’t put a donut in front of me and try to take it away,” he said.
“You wouldn’t do anything.”
“Try me, Kennedy.”
I let out a laugh then pushed the box of donuts back on the desk toward him. He gave me a big grin then went back to polishing off his latest pastry.
While everybody else around me was busy doing something, I was forced to sit there and twiddled my thumbs.
Why is this taking so long?
I sighed a deep breath and closed my eyes. My head started to roll back as I drifted off. All of the noise in the office slowly disappeared. I was just on the verge of losing myself when a voice boomed in my ears.
I jerked my head up and looked toward the woman standing near my desk.
“In my office. Now.”
She quickly spun around and marched down the aisle toward her office. I gave Sanders a look and he shrugged, his eyes focused on his donut.
“I told you it was serious.”
“She’s always like that.”
“She is. But she seems a little moodier than usual. Maybe you should take a donut to her.”
“That’s a good idea but… I wouldn’t want to take them away from you.”
“I always knew you were a smart man, Kennedy.”
He gave me another wink before gazing into the box of donuts like he wasn’t sure what to munch on next.
I got up from my seat and headed into the office.
It was cluttered with stacks of papers covering the desk. The file cabinets off to the side made you wonder why there were so many when everything was digital these days. It somehow seemed cramped despite how spacious it was. The faint smell of old coffee filled my nostrils in a way that made me already miss the donuts I was just next to.
“Take a seat, Kennedy.”
The woman stared out the window, her hands behind her back. We were a few stories up, so the view was decent but nothing to be amazed by.
“Do you read the papers?” she asked.
“When I have the time.”
“Did you read the story about the little girl?”
“The little girl?”
“Oh, right. I think everybody in Snow Falls read about that.”
“It’s a damn shame what happened to her.”
“I don’t think—”
“I know what you’re thinking. The police did everything they could do. And you’d be right. But it still should’ve never happened in the first place. The fact that Ashton Webb had to get involved…”
She turned around and stared at me.
“…It’s an embarrassment that it ever got to that point.”
She narrowed her gaze at me, her eyes unblinking. I was never intimidated by her though I had every reason to be.
Lee was the Captain of the police department. Everybody who came across her agreed that she was the hardest Alpha you’d ever meet. Her hair was white and short. She wasn’t as big as most Alphas. Her skin was blemished and the makeup didn’t do enough to cover up her wrinkles. But nobody ever thought about testing her.
She straightened her tie and let out a deep sigh.
“There’s a problem in this city,” she said. “Homeless out on the streets. Runaway, orphaned Omegas struggling to find a place to stay. An illegal gambling ring that city council won’t give me the funding to deal with. Not to mention all of the biker clubs and gangs roaming the streets.”
“Snow Falls has its fair share of problems but I think we’re doing a good job. We’re all doing a good job. You, too.”
“Save your flattery, Kennedy. If I wanted someone to bend over for me, I’d get an Omega.”
“It’s true though. Violent crime in this city is down. Fewer reports of robberies and theft. Snow Falls is becoming a nicer place to live every day.”
“It’s not becoming nice fast enough.”
She looked back out the window. She puffed her chest out proudly. The captain of the police department looked as defiant as ever. Maybe it was the way her suit framed her body. Maybe it was how she always had her nose in the air. If you hadn’t heard her, you wouldn’t know she was complaining about something just now.
“You have a point though,” she said. “Things are improving… in the Southern Block where Ashton Webb has decided to flaunt his wealth. But the West Bay, gang activity is still present.”
She turned back toward me.
“We’re going to do something about it.”
“There are a lot of gangs in the West Bay,” I said. “You can’t expect to fix everything overnight.”
“You’re right. But we’re going to start big and we’re going to work our way down. More specifically, you’re going to work your way down.”
She walked toward me and leaned against the front of her desk. She picked up a manila folder and handed it to me.
“Your next assignment.”
I opened it up and read the file. It was a bio of a man complete with a portrait. He was wearing a suit. His dark hair was slicked back over his head. There was nothing but a blank expression on his pale, hardened face. It would’ve been easy to remember him just by how square his jaw was but more than anything, his eyes were more dominant than anything else, like they forced you to look at him.
“Robert Rivera,” she said. “Have you heard of him?”
I shook my head.
“He’s a major drug lord. He’s got work in several big cities. None in Snow Falls.”
“Then what does he have to—”
“None yet. He’s planning on setting up a major distribution plant right here in Snow Falls. And he’s doing it in the West Bay.”
“How do you know this?”
“A man like Rivera can’t keep all of his secrets. The problem comes with prosecuting him. He’s got enough money to hire all of the best lawyers. They could never get a conviction, let alone make it stick.”
“If he’s coming to Snow Falls, then it looks like we’ll just have to deal with him.”
Lee’s lips curled into a smirk.
“That’s what I like about you, Kennedy. People say you’re young but you can never work your way up if you don’t have the initiative like you do.”
“This doesn’t seem like a simple task though. I don’t know if I can take down a man like Rivera, especially when he’s probably watching his back constantly.”
“Rivera can’t do what he does alone. He’s got people working for him. Chances are, him coming to Snow Falls means he’s going to get some of the locals doing his dirty work. Rivera doesn’t have to get his hands dirty.”
I put all of the pieces together in my head.
“…We get to Rivera through someone else. We get enough evidence to press charges and then we make the conviction stick.”
“People in every city have been trying to deal with The Hook. You, Kennedy, are going to be the one to finally put an end to him. Are you up to it?”
Even though I knew I couldn’t refuse the opportunity, I knew just as well that this wouldn’t be easy.
“This is big for you,” Lee said. “You do this, you’ll get that promotion to detective that everybody wants. No more risking your life out there dealing with all of the gangs and thugs out on the streets. You can do some real investigating in your own office. Cops around here don’t get this opportunity very often.”
“I know,” I said with a nod.
I closed the manila folder then got up from my seat.
“I’ll get the evidence on Rivera,” I said. “We’ll take him down.”
“I know you will.”
I spun around on my heel and headed out of the office. Just before I left, Lee called out to me.
“Don’t let me down, Kennedy.”
I didn’t respond to her. I just left and headed back to my desk. Sanders was still sitting comfortably in his seat.
“What’s happening?” he said, his attention focused on his chocolate-covered donut.
“We’ve got a new assignment,” I said. “In the West Bay.”
“I told you it was serious. All those gangs and biker clubs. It ain’t gonna be pretty.”
“This job is never pretty but somebody’s gotta do it. I need to do a little research…”
I spun around and went to work on my computer.
“Take your time,” Sanders replied. “I’ve still got a few more donuts to get through.”
I shook my head softly and laughed. It was nice that he was able to put a smile on my face despite how big of a task I had in front of me. But I was confident I could get it done. It didn’t matter where in Snow Falls they sent me. Nothing could stop me from doing my job. The West Bay wasn’t an exception.