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The Firm Hand of the Law by Loki Renard – Sample

The Firm Hand of the Law by Loki RenardPrologue

“Lily Brannigan.” The chief slapped a picture up on the white board and pointed his thick, hairy finger at it. “She runs the Fox and Stoat down by the waterfront. Inherited it from her grandmother. The Brannigans have been smugglers for generations. Isn’t a one of them that’s straight. This family has crime in their genes. Lily is the last of the line, but she’s in enough trouble for a whole clan.”

The picture revealed Lily Brannigan to be a pretty woman with expressive blue eyes and thick, flaxen gold, almost red hair. A strawberry blonde closer to strawberry than blonde. The picture had been taken covertly, while she was wearing Bavarian tavern clothing. She was smiling at something, her apple cheeks dimpling. The low cut shirt showed off her cleavage to great effect, soft pillowy breasts rising proudly above lace ruffles.

A few murmurs and chuckles spread around the briefing room. A pretty girl always lifted spirits, even if she was a criminal.

“Knight, you’ll be keeping an eye on her. I want you working her day and night. She’s wily and she’s slippery, so best be careful, keep your distance, and play this subtle.”

“Subtle,” someone guffawed in the back.

Gareth Knight did not have a reputation for being subtle. He was two hundred pounds of muscle, and he used it frequently. He was just as surprised as his sniggering comrades. It didn’t seem like the job for him. He was usually the detective they sent out when someone or something was about to explode. An average day at work for Gareth usually involved repeated exposure to nastiness of a fairly unpleasant kind. Keeping an eye on an attractive young woman was definitely out of the ordinary.

A second picture showed her full figure. She was on the smaller side, but she had a full bottom and broad hips, which drew every eye in the room and provoked some comments as well.

“Moving on,” the chief said once they’d had their eyefuls. “Pass those pictures back to Gareth.”

Two pictures came back through the rows of men and ended up in Gareth’s lap, where Lily Brannigan gazed up at him with her spankable bottom and her adorable miscreant smile.

“What’s the deal, Chief?” Gareth knocked on his boss’ door when the briefing was over. There had to be more to the case than met the eye. “Why do you want me on this?”

“Shut the door.”

Gareth shut the door and waited for the explanation.

“The deal is that our subject is going to be a key witness. She’s been in the thick of things for years, seen more than most. That’s the kind of testimony we’re going to need to make things stick. So you need to make sure she stays alive long enough to testify once things start to go south for these people.”

“You think there’s a reason she won’t?”

“We got close to these guys a while back. Before a case could be brought to trial, they killed off every low level dealer, associate, and friend they had. The city morgue was full and the case was dropped for a lack of evidence. So yes, she’s in danger once we start closing in on some of the higher ups.”

“This isn’t surveillance so much as babysitting.”

“It’s both,” the chief said firmly. “Keep an eye on her, keep her alive—and hope you don’t see any action.”

“Mm-hmm, and what makes you think she’s going to testify when the time comes?”

“That’s the second part of your job,” the chief said. “Get close to her. Try to get her on our side.”

“And if she’s not keen on coming to our side?”

“Make her keen.”

An unspoken understanding passed between the two men. They were officers of the law, but there was an awful lot of latitude where the law was concerned. Miss Lily Brannigan would be testifying, whether she liked it or not.

Chapter One

From the moment the heavy set man wearing a leather jacket walked into her bar, Lily knew he was going to be difficult. It was the way he walked, the way his eyes scanned every single person in the room and the doors and windows besides. He had the demeanor of a man who expected trouble.

Wednesday nights were slow nights, nights when most of the clientele were the regulars, men who knew each other like family, even if they never did anything more than grunt occasional acknowledgment to one another. He was out of place amidst the insurance salesmen, roofers, and family men—all avoiding men like him.

Taylor, a regular, was sitting at his usual spot, front and center, watching a replay of the game and drinking whiskey. He was commenting on every single play, as was his wont.

“Useless,” he muttered into the glass. “Can’t go left if you want to go right.”

“Mm-hmm,” Lily agreed. Most of what Taylor said made sense, just not in the context of what he was watching. His sun-faded old baseball cap probably once supported one team or another. Now it just supported grime.

She kept watch on the newcomer out of the corner of her eye as he approached the bar. She noticed he chose not to sit, but to lean at the far end, his back to the wall. She also noticed the familiar bulge of a weapon in his jacket pocket. Quite a few patrons carried. Most of them didn’t have quite the same level of menace about them.

“Can I help you?” She stayed where she was and asked the question with an unmistakably icy tone. The Fox and Stoat didn’t have many restrictions on entry. There wasn’t a dress code per se, but you had to pass the sniff test.

He was probably used to a warmer reception from women. He was a handsome devil, with a square chin and a powerful jaw covered in dark stubble. His eyes were two blue slits under dark brows, his nose long and aquiline. In spite of the way he dressed and the vibe he gave off, there was nothing thuggish about his appearance. He looked like a warrior, she mused as she glared. Someone who would have looked good in a leather harness and not much else.

“Guinness.”

He’d ignored her tone. She knew he’d deliberately ignored it and not obliviously missed it because of the flash of warning in those scintillating eyes.

“We don’t serve Guinness,” she said, resting her hand on the tap from which Guinness would have flowed if she’d pulled the lever.

His brows quirked together, then the left one rose. He focused on her with an intensity which made her stomach quiver. She’d never been looked at like that before, more than looked at, analyzed and taken apart by a man’s laser focus.

“Whatever’s on tap, then.”

“Beer’s off,” she said, digging her heels in. A few heads were starting to lift, like slumbering wolves awakening to the awareness that there was a stranger in their midst. They sensed what she sensed, maybe to a lesser degree. The guy didn’t belong at the Fox and Stoat. The guy needed to go. “Sorry mister,” she said, affecting a slight British tone. “Looks like you’ll have to find another place to drink.”

It took a couple of seconds for the hulking man to realize that he was being thrown out by a woman less than half his size. She watched comprehension dawn and braced herself for the understandable anger. It didn’t come. He smirked at her, his cheek dimpling as he nodded.

“So that’s how you want to play it,” he murmured, making his way toward the doors.

He left without incident, but the evening was changed for good. Lily couldn’t shake a feeling of something like foreboding mixed with arousal, a dark excitement which told her change was in the air. Taking her cell phone out of her apron, she sent a quick text message to a friend:

Did u send sum 1 over?

It took less than a minute for her message to be returned.

No. Y?

 

Nvm.

She tapped the three letters and hit send. But she couldn’t stop minding. The energy the guy brought with him had stayed even though he was gone—and she wasn’t entirely certain he was gone.

“You okay?” Taylor asked the question gruffly. His eyes never left the game, but they’d done so now. He was giving her a quizzical look. “Did you know him?”

“No,” Lily said, putting on a smile. “Never seen him before.”

“Thought he might be an ex-boyfriend or something, way you puffed up like an alley cat.”

“Just didn’t like the look of him, that’s all,” Lily shrugged. “You want another?”

“I always want another,” Taylor grinned, his wrinkles forming a myriad of impromptu valleys. “But the wife will be wanting to know where I am.”

It was eleven o’clock, pretty close to closing time.

“Last call!” Lily sang out. A few more drink orders came in, not many. It was looking like a quiet end to a quietly unsettling evening.

Maybe she was making too much out of it. She probably was, she told herself as she poured a few more beers for the patrons who were determined to stay to the very last moment. It was just a guy with a gun. There were always guys with guns in that part of the city. Some of them wanted drinks. She started to think she’d probably overreacted by sending him away. But there was the way he’d left, and his words had suggested there was more to it than just wanting a drink.

“Get a grip,” she murmured to herself. She was starting to get nervous, and nerves were dangerous. There were several shipments planned for the week. All of them were important. All of them were worth more than her life. And now there were strangers sniffing around the place.

Putting her concerns aside, she swept the stragglers out by eleven-thirty and locked the doors. Usually doing so gave her a sense of security, but the unease stayed with her as she wiped down the bar.

“Hey, gorgeous.”

A deep male voice startled her. She leaped around, spray bottle in hand, wet rag poised to throw.

“Relax.” Rex, her contact chuckled. “Just have a few things to store away, that’s all.”

Rex was sort of handsome, or would have been if not for the aura of slime which coated his every word and deed. He probably fancied himself a slick operator, but Lily found his charming smile a little too empty and predatory for her liking. Smugglers tended to be that way. They were opportunists, ready to exploit any weakness, any break in the market.

“Haven’t seen you in a while,” she observed dryly. “I thought you went inside.”

“In and out, revolving door,” Rex winked.

He had something in a satchel. She didn’t ask what it was, didn’t want to know. If she’d had her way, the Fox and Stoat would have been a smuggler free location, but given it had been a den of iniquity for generations, that was difficult. The first package had showed up the day she’d taken over the bar, when Gammy got sick. They’d been coming ever since.

“Come on then,” she said, taking keys from the belt at her waist. She led him down to the basement, where casks waited neatly in a row. None of them contained any kind of liquor, never had done. Each of them was hollowed out to hold far more interesting contents of much greater value.

“Had a good night?” Rex tried to make casual conversation. She was not in the mood for it at all.

“I have to get home, Rex,” she said. “Got that stuff locked away yet?”

“What’s the hurry, beautiful?” He reached for her face, leaning in for an unwanted kiss. Rex could be handsy at the best of times. Usually she laughed it off, but she wasn’t in a laughing mood.

“Not tonight, Rex,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “I’ve got things to do.”

“Someone’s on her period,” he said, cackling as if he’d made some sort of original joke. “When are you going to say yes to that date?”

“Never,” she said, rolling her eyes. He was persistent, but in his case, that was not a good thing. She’d seen the women waiting for him in the bar sometimes, scantily clad ladies who seemed to have a fiscal agenda in mind. There were all sorts that hung out around the waterfront. She tried not to judge. She also tried not to date.

“One of these days,” Rex said, shaking a finger under her nose. “One of these days you’re going to have to say yes.”

His phrasing was ominous, to say the least.

“I don’t think my boyfriend would approve of that.”

Lily had briefly dated a semi-professional wrestler who had also acted as a bouncer for the bar. What Rex, and most everyone else in his circle, was unaware of was that she had broken up with him a long time ago.

“Oh yeah, your boyfriend,” Rex said, dropping back. Funny how powerful the memory of a guy capable of putting another man through a wall was in the psyche of a scumbag. “Well, I’ll see you around,” he said, stuffing the entire satchel into the false cask.

“See you.”

Lily saw Rex out, then finished shutting the bar down. She made her way upstairs, where the family had lived when she was small. She was the last Brannigan left up there. It had once felt crowded, but now she missed those cozy days when all three generations had been under one roof. With mother long since passed and Gammy in the rest home, the three rooms seemed horribly empty.

The original paper was still on the walls, peeling in places and yellowed with the stain from Gammy’s cigarettes. She should really have renovated by now. There was enough money to do it, but the act of erasing the past was a bit much for her to stomach, even if the past was gross and potentially carcinogenic.

Lily put a pan on the stove, cracked a can of soup, and poured it in. Soup was the easiest nourishment at the end of a long night and not too heavy to keep her from sleeping. With dinner attended to, she flicked on the television, catching a late night comedy show. The host was reading a list of puns, humor just banal enough to distract her from the serious concerns of her life.

It was completely by chance that she happened to glance out the window. Usually the curtains were drawn upstairs, but she’d left one window open to air the place out. Summer could make the upstairs apartments stuffy, and several generations of Brannigans had left all sorts of smells embedded in the carpets and drapes.

But something caught her eye as she shut the window. A car parked in the alley behind the bar. That was different—and not in a good way. It smelled of stakeout in a way she very much didn’t like.

Reaching for her phone, she sent another text.

Sum 1 is here.

After tense seconds, she received a message in return.

K

A few minutes later her soup was boiling and another car had pulled up behind the one in the alley. Lily kept a subtle eye on the goings on while the soup cooled. Funny how you had to heat it up, then wait until it was cool enough to actually eat. It would probably make more sense to just warm it to a comfortable temperature in the first place.

Two men got out of the second car and went to investigate the first. They didn’t seem to find anything, judging by the shrugs and the way they got back in their car.

Her phone rang.

A voice she would happily never have heard again in her life came over the line. “Getting jumpy, Lily?” It was Jasper. The local lord of the underground. His tones were silky and refined, but she’d never let them fool her. He was dangerous, that was common knowledge. The only time she got in touch with him was when there was a problem with a shipment, or if she suspected there was about to be a problem.

“No,” she said. “Sorry, Jasper.”

“Want me to come and stay the night?”

“No, thank you,” she said, trying to be polite. Having Jasper at her place would be like inviting a bull upstairs, with similar effect. Besides, it wasn’t a real offer. Jasper never stayed anywhere that didn’t have room service with five stars. He was really offering to send over muscle of the kind Lily didn’t want anywhere near her private areas.

“Okay, you let me know if you need any help.”

“Will do.” She hung up the phone and made a mental note not to contact Jasper even if the bar exploded. She rarely spoke to him, but every time she did she was left with a bad feeling in the very pit of her stomach. Her sense of unease was growing by the moment, leaving her very uncomfortable in her own skin.

She was on her own on this one, stuck between vying groups of bad guys, all of whom had some stake in the Brannigans thanks to Gammy’s fund raising in her younger years. The smart thing to do would be to sell the bar and move on, but it was hard to sell run down real estate in an area of town with a crime rate higher than the moon.

So there she was, sipping cooling soup and wondering what was going on with the car in the alley. In spite of the fact that Jasper’s men hadn’t found anything inside, it was still bothering her. It was too nice a car to be parked in a dodgy part of town in the middle of the night.

Abandoning her soup, she stepped out onto the fire escape and looked down at it. It was a black sedan, assuming in the most unassuming way. She stepped back indoors and returned to her soup, but the car’s presence was irritating, a thorn in her mind. There was no way she could go to bed while it was still there.

She decided to do something about it. The car was below her apartment more or less, which gave Lily an idea. She went to the junk drawer, which housed items dating back more than twenty years. Bottle caps, rubber bands… and water balloons. She filled them in the kitchen sink, adding a little something from the junk drawer to the mix.

Taking the filled balloons out to the fire escape, she tossed two in quick succession. They flew straight down as if made of lead, not water, and burst in great wet crowns, soaking the car in not just water, but a burst of glue and glitter, which would royally mess with the finish on the car. It looked clean, or rather it had done before Lily unleashed her ire upon it.

“Hey! Cut it out!”

A deep voice evinced immediate frustration. Someone had been caught in the splash, judging by the way his shoulders glittered in the limited light reflected from the street lamp outside the alley.

“Get out of here!” Lily shouted down. She couldn’t make out who it was, but she didn’t care. Whoever it was needed to go away. “Next time, it won’t be water!”

A dark chuckle floated up the iron girders. “Little lady, you think you can chase me away with a few water balloons?”

“The water’s just a warning!”

There was a squeaking sound as the man pulled down the ladder leading to the fire escape. Panicking, Lily hurled down the remaining three water balloons, catching him in a cascade of fabulous pink and gold glitter. Then she slammed the door shut, bolted it, and closed and pulled the shade so he couldn’t see in. Having run out of courage for the evening, she hid behind the couch, phone in hand in case things got any worse.

A solid knock at the door jangled her nerves. “Come on,” that deep voice rumbled. “If you’re bold enough to do the crime, be bold enough to own up to it and face the consequences.”

“Water balloons aren’t a crime,” she shouted. “I’m about to make a call that’s going to mess your night up if you don’t get out of here.”

“Oh yeah? Who are you planning on calling?”

She was trying to intimidate a door. She got the impression that trying to intimidate the man himself wouldn’t be any easier.

“What do you want?”

“Right now? I want to smack your little ass until you learn picking fights with strangers is a bad idea.”

Now she was being threatened by the door, though as threats went, it wasn’t a particularly fearsome one. It was almost flirtatious really. Obviously he had some sense of humor. A lot of men Lily knew would have flown into a cursing rage at being caught by water balloons in the middle of the night while wearing what looked like a fairly expensive leather jacket.

“This isn’t that sort of place,” she shouted. “Try Girls Girls Girls, down the street street street.”

“I’ve found the girl I need to deal with,” the man behind the door said. “And now she’s hiding because she knows she’s in trouble.”

How in hell was he making her feel naughty? She was squirming behind the couch, hiding like the girl he accused her of being.

“Who is it? Who are you?” He had piqued her curiosity enough to make her take her fingers off her phone. She had been on the verge of calling for back up, but now her instinct was telling her that the man on the fire escape was no threat, even if he was looming wetly in the dead of night.

“Someone who isn’t going to converse through the door. Either open up and face the consequences or our conversation is over.”

Lily smirked. “Go away,” she shouted, “and take your sparkle wagon with you.”

There was a moment’s silence, then she heard footsteps moving away. Whoever he was, he was a man of his word. A minute or two later, the car’s engine purred into life. She was alone.

There was a little spring of triumph in her step as she made her way to bed. Car gone. Job done.

* * *

Lily’s week didn’t give her a lot of time to think about what had happened that night with the man and the car. There were other men with other cars, trucks, and packages, all passing through the bar at various hours of the day and night, sometimes stashing goods in the cellar, sometimes cutting deals in the bar itself, sometimes panicking and getting into fist fights. There was no shortage of excitement about The Fox and Stoat for sure. Lily presided over it all, staying out of the deals themselves, but making sure that things ran smoothly.

The last deal was done, the bar was cleaned, the staff had gone for the evening, and she was taking the trash out when a little flutter of glitter heralded the return of the mysterious stranger. No sooner had she put the lid on the trash can than he was there, tall and dangerous, still sparkling in a few places.

This time she recognized him as the same man who had given her cause for concern when ordering beer. His glinting eyes caught her in their gaze and pinned her to the alley floor.

She was not dressed for conflict. A light tunic top and skin tight leggings were comfortable to work in, but they provided no protection from tall, dark, and dangerous men with scintillating gazes which shot through her and seemed to read every thought she had.

“You!”

“Yes, ma’am,” the man drawled. “Me. I think we ought to go upstairs, quickly, before any of your associates happen to see what’s going on.”

“I think you ought to get in your sparkly car and leave.”

“Not happening,” he said, taking her by the upper arm. “Move.”

There was no way in hell Lily was going to allow him into her home. She did not have much at her disposal in the way of self-defense, but she knew how to execute a flawless shot to the groin. Her knee was in motion the moment he touched her, flying with precision towards the most sensitive and prized part of his anatomy.

If she had performed the action against any other man, it would have worked flawlessly, but this one moved quick as a snake, blocking her knee and twisting her around so that she was facing away from his body.

“No you don’t,” he murmured in her ear. “Just do as you’re told and nobody gets hurt.” He emphasized his point by slapping her bottom—hard. The slap sounded like a gunshot in the alley and was followed by an involuntary cry of complaint which she knew nobody was going to investigate.

The promise that nobody would be hurt had already been broken as far as she was concerned. If this was to be the end of things, she would not go quietly into the night, or into her apartment as the case might be. She lifted her foot and kicked him in the shin. “Get the hell off me!”

“Settle down,” he growled. “I’m a police officer.”

“And I’m a fucking nun,” she swore, now quite terrified.

“If I was going to hurt you, I would have done it by now. Stop making this dangerous for the both of us and get your butt upstairs.”

There was authority in his tone which made her feel he was probably telling the truth. Only a police officer would be arrogant enough to order someone around the way he was doing. A criminal would have been either more aggressive or much nicer about the whole thing.

“Go.” His palm landed hard across her bottom cheeks again.

Lily made her way reluctantly back into the bar and up the stairs to her apartment with the officer at her heels. This was bad. This was very, very bad. Her bottom was tingling, along with her sense of danger. Trouble was in the air, thick as smoke and twice as bitter.

“Here’s the deal,” he said, sitting her down in the armchair Gammy had once loved. “I’m a detective.” He showed his badge, confirming his identity. “And you’re part of a criminal organization. I think we can help each other out, though.”

Lily sat back in the chair, giving him the same look Gammy would have, a steely blue gaze which once unnerved an infamous gangster. “Do you have any proof of that? Do you have a warrant to be in my house? Or do you think you can scare me by breaking into my home and intimidating me?”

“If you want me to get a warrant, we can do things that way. Bring you in on formal charges, make it known to your associates that you just became a weak link in their chain. What happens to weak links, Lily?”

Biting her lip, Lily felt her heart begin to beat faster. The detective had a point. If anybody found out that the police were onto activities at The Fox and Stoat, things would get very nasty very fast. She wasn’t going to let him know he’d rattled her though. She had to stay strong. Men like him sensed weakness and exploited it. She’d seen it happen a hundred times before and she was not going to let it happen to her.

“I’ve been arrested plenty of times,” she shrugged. “It’s never been a problem for me.”

“Tough girl, huh?” He stood in front of her, powerful legs spread shoulder width apart in a stance that was undeniably dominating. His presence was large in the small apartment, threatening, but not in the way Lily was used to being threatened. “Let’s see how tough you are after a night in the cells.”

“What are you arresting me for?”

The officer smirked at her, his lips quirking in a way that made the planes of his cheeks become unyieldingly hard. “My brief was to keep an eye on you until I had enough evidence to press charges. It didn’t take very long.”

“Oh, the two minutes you spent in the bar was long enough, was it?”

“The ten minutes I watched a known smuggler bring a package containing a tracker into the bar was.” He gave her that hard, dark look, tinged with triumph. “Rex is one of ours. So I suggest you consider having a nice, friendly chat with me on the topic of what we can do for one another.”

Fuck. Lily let that and a whole string of curse words flow through her mind. Outwardly, she was more composed. “Rex is a scumbag, and so are you. Get out of my house. Now.”

“If that’s how you want to play this,” he shrugged, removing handcuffs from his belt. “Stand up please, Miss Brannigan. You are under arrest.”

“For what?”

“Interfering with an investigation.” He beckoned her out of the chair. “If I have to drag you out of here, I will.”

There was no sense resisting arrest, but Lily made sure her demeanor conveyed nothing but contempt for the man as she stood and allowed him to handcuff her. His hands were ridiculously large, dwarfing hers as he snapped the cuffs around her wrists and tightened them to a point just short of discomfort.

Her heart was pounding and her stomach was churning, but she tried to convince herself not to be worried. Even if he had sprung her with a snitch, there was nothing else on site. He didn’t seem to know about any of the real deals that had happened in the past week, which meant it would be a tenuous case at best, and Lily’s lawyer wasn’t in the habit of fumbling the ball. The officer on the other end of the cuffs was just trying to bully her into submission, and that wasn’t going to work.

It wasn’t Lily’s first brush with the law. She didn’t recall her first brush with the law—that had taken place long before she could talk or walk. Police uniforms had punctuated her formative years. For a long time she thought they were family friends. They came over more often than some aunts and uncles did, that was certain. Then, as she got older, she realized that the police presence was not exactly welcome, no matter how big the smile Gammy plastered on her face whenever they came by.

Her own first personal experience with police was as a student in an apartment with several other students, one of whom had taken an interest in psychedelic horticulture. A party had turned into a brawl, had turned into a visit from the local PD, who were kind enough to turn a blind eye to the many pipes and pieces of wire gauze and the general funk of smoke and hand rolled cigarettes. She didn’t think they’d have been so lucky if this officer had been on the scene that evening. He was a hard ass, a “my way or the highway” sort of guy. Unfortunately for him, Lily was a highway sort of woman.

“Off to the cells with you, my girl,” he said, giving her a little nudge forward.

“Good,” she replied. “I needed a break from this place anyway.”

“Oh really?” His reply was as calm and falsely cheerful as her statement. “Well, we have a range of fine penal institutions spread across the country. I can arrange a stay for you in any one of them.”

“Penal institutions are probably the closest you get to anything penile,” Lily muttered under her breath.

“I heard that,” he said, sounding almost amused. “That sort of talk will get your butt tanned before we get to the station.”

“Because putting innocent people in cuffs isn’t enough humiliation for you,” she argued over her shoulder.

“You’re not innocent,” he reminded her, giving her a swat. “Get moving.”

The sting in her butt sparked her temper and made her do the worst thing anyone in handcuffs can ever do—she kicked the officer holding her. Immediately braced for retaliation, Lily waited for the beating to start. It didn’t. Instead she was swept off her feet entirely and only came down once the cop sat down on her sofa and put her over his thigh. Without any further discussion, he started spanking her bottom hard and fast. It sounded like a thunderstorm in her apartment, slaps falling like torrential rain. The cuffs kept her from protecting her bottom, so she was completely helpless as his palm punished her.

“You’ve been getting away with being on the wrong side of the law for a long time, but that run is over, young lady,” he lectured. “I’m taking you in, and no tantrum is going to stop me.”

Lily’s reply was caustic and filled with curse words which didn’t rise to the level of sense. She was outraged in the extreme. How dare he! “You’re not allowed to hit people!” She screeched the objection at the top of her lungs. “You’re breaking the law too!”

“There’s no law against giving a girl a spanking when she needs one.”

“Yes, there fucking is!”

“Not in my book,” he replied, whacking her bottom with resounding slaps. “And that’s the only one that matters right now, wouldn’t you say?”

He was right. There wasn’t anything she could do in her position, cuffed and caught over hard thighs. The sting had turned to a flame searing her cheeks, each new swat stoking the fire. She was left to kick her legs and squeal like a piglet, or so it sounded to her ears. Her face flushed with the shame of it all, hating how vulnerable she was. Being arrested was one thing. There was due process in an arrest. You got your stuff taken, you got your fingerprints recorded, and you got your picture taken, but you didn’t get your ass spanked.

“You ready to go to jail now?”

“Yes! Fuck you, yes!”

“Now that’s what I like to hear,” he said, resting his hand on her bottom and moving it back and forward slightly. Was that a rub? Was he rubbing her ass? She couldn’t believe it, but she wasn’t going to complain either. The small movement relieved some of the discomfort which had consumed her hide. “Unless, of course, you’re ready to talk sense with me.”

His hand squeezed her bottom and the tips of his fingers grazed between her cheeks. They slid lower until he was touching her pussy through her leggings. Her gasp was not of complaint. He had thick, long fingers and the lower they strayed, the more of their length was pressed against her slit. She was not wearing panties under the leggings in an effort to avoid visible panty line, so there was very little protecting her from his touch.

It was madness, but she spread her thighs just a little and was rewarded when the pad of his index finger settled over her clit and started circling. Her sigh was soft as she clenched her stomach, bearing down against his hand. The pressure grew a little as he went once, twice, thrice around her clit, then rubbed his fingers along her slit all the way up to the moistening aperture.

Lily lifted her hips. His fingers pressed down, her leggings delving between her lips as he massaged gently. Part of her mind was screaming to stop, but that part grew smaller and smaller with every movement of his fingers.

It had been a long time since anyone had touched her like that, with a masterful desire that gave as much pleasure as it took. The leggings were a frustrating barrier, but one that was quickly becoming soaked with her juices. The tingling in her bottom, first whipped by his palm, now artfully stroked by his dominating digits, had spread deep into her pussy.

Silently hoping that he would pull down her leggings, Lily tried to keep her moans quiet. It was bad enough to be spanked by someone she was fast coming to hate. It was even worse being pleasured by the same man. He had her quite literally in the palm of his hand, working her pussy with increasing intensity.

A ripping sound made her freeze. It was the unmistakable sound of the seams of her leggings giving way. A cool breeze hit her bottom and pussy lips, quickly followed by the heat of his fingers on her bare cunt. Two pushed right between her lips, penetrating her while his thumb pressed against the button of her clit. If she’d had any objections, they evaporated with the plunging motions which left her gasping for more.

He growled above her, his cock pressing against her hip. He was just as turned on as she was, just as caught up in the lust that was consuming them both.

“Time to get you in the cells,” he said, stilling his hand. His fingers were still deep inside her hot pussy, but his words indicated an imminent cessation of pleasure. That she could not allow.

“I’m not going to the fucking cells!” She bit his leg through his thick pants. He spanked her ass. Hard. She fought as hard as she could and managed to slide off his lap. But it didn’t do her a bit of good because he just scooped her off the floor and tossed her face down on the couch, her hips high over the arm. The spanking continued, his palm lashing her bottom with hard, fast slaps that made her screech into the upholstery.

Her tights were stretched and torn, wet where he’d teased her. The frustration of that burning need made her act out all the more, wriggling and squirming until he was forced to pin her down. His big strong hand pressed down on her lower back, cutting off all other movement.

“What are you so angry about?” He growled the question down at her. “Is it just the spanking? Or is it this wet little pussy that’s making you so naughty?”

She didn’t need to answer. He knew. His fingers were back at her clit, rubbing in wide slow circles which just missed the bud and left her even more wound up and needy. Gasping, she arched her hips, offering herself. And then she heard it—the sound of a zipper being lowered.

Social propriety dictated that a man and a woman who had barely met should not engage in intercourse, but neither of them seemed overly contained by notions of propriety. They were both caught in the same carnal madness, all thought of restraint gone as her pussy spread around the head of his cock.

She felt her pussy spread as his cock pressed hard against her lips. In one long thrust, he buried himself inside her. He pulled out and then she was being fucked through her tights, his cock plunging through the hole and into hers. He held her cheeks spread, making her pussy clench around his rod with each and every stroke. The cuffs jangled with the pounding, her captured cunt taking every stroke willingly.

“You’re a bad girl, Brannigan,” he growled, leaning over her body as his hands slid up her back. The censure should have irritated her, but it only made the encounter hotter. He was taking control of her in a way no man ever had, and she was responding to him in a way she had never thought possible. He was hard and merciless, but every move he made pushed her to greater heights of pleasure. With her eyes closed, her lips parted in panting moans, Lily submitted her body to the man and the moment.

The thrusts got harder and faster as he came closer to climax, forcing her toward that same end with every rough stroke. Her loins were burning, her tummy clenched as shivers began to ripple through her body, the harbingers of an orgasm which wrenched her out of consciousness for one bright moment as every part of her body contracted and then released in a rushing flow. She was vaguely aware of him climaxing too, spilling his seed inside her as he locked himself hard against her body and growled his orgasm against the back of her neck.

For a few panting moments, there was peace. Then he slid from her, his cum following suit as he slapped her bottom. “Now,” he said, “you’re coming in.”

“I thought we already did that part.”

It was a cute joke, but it didn’t save her.

He snorted as he helped her up. “Unless that made you reconsider the idea of working with me?” She felt him wrap his arm around her waist and pull her close. His lips brushed the back of her neck as he spoke to her in a low, masculine rumble. “There’s more where that came from if you do.”

It was Lily’s turn to snort. He was a good lay. Okay, he was an amazing lay. It was the best sex she’d had in a very long time, maybe ever, but she wasn’t going to sell herself out for sex—especially not now that she’d cum. “Hell no,” she declared. “There’s no way I’m going to flip.”

“Then you’re going to jail with a sore bottom and you can sit in a cell on that hot little ass and think about your options.” He eased her up onto her feet. “Do you want to change clothes before I take you in?”

It was a rather gallant offer, one which Lily took advantage of. Standing in her bedroom, she tried to decide what was most appropriate for going to jail in. Jeans? Jail jeans? Practical, but nothing too frumpy. She chose a pair of tight fitting ones which showed off her taut body to her best advantage. The tunic she kept. It was low-cut enough to make her look good in the inevitable mug shot.

With that in mind, she ran a brush through her hair and touched up her lipstick. Picture day! She grinned to herself, feeling both elated and reckless after her orgasm. It had been a long time since she’d last gotten laid, and even longer since she had enjoyed it so much. The cop was a hell of a lover. Good enough for her to not much mind being taken down to the station for a little more… questioning.

Smirking at herself in the mirror, Lily ignored the warning sting in her bottom. “You got this,” she told her reflection. “Give him hell, like Gammy would.”

“You ready? Sure you want to come into custody? Wouldn’t prefer to stay here and maybe have a nice chat?”

Lily held her hands out in front of her. “Cuff me.”

His dark brow rose. “Alright then.” He clicked one cuff onto her left wrist and followed that with one on the right. The cool metal no longer felt threatening; it felt sexy, exciting. “You can get that smile off your face,” he said gruffly. “This is serious business.”

“Oh, yes,” she agreed in mock placating tones as he turned her about and put her before him, “very serious.”

Gareth dealt another sharp slap to her bottom. “Need another session, Brannigan?”

“If you like.” She grinned over her shoulder. “The first one wasn’t bad.”

“Let’s see how a night in the cells makes you feel about that. “

Lily giggled to herself. He was grumpy now because she wasn’t worried, but really, who could be worried after a climax so powerful even the notion of death paled in comparison? She could do a night in the cells. She could do a month in the cells. It made no difference to her. Gammy had once done three months in San Quentin. It hadn’t broken her spirit, and Lily wouldn’t let anything law enforcement threw at her break hers either.

“Lock up, will you?” She nodded toward the keys on the counter.

Gareth was good enough to do so, making sure the bar was closed up before she got carted off to the cells. Eyeing his car from a distance, Lily was gratified to see that it still sparkled here and there. He might have won this battle, but she was going to win the war.

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