Welcome to CSI CONNECTICUT - the sequel to CSI SEATTLE.
Setting the scene for CSI Connecticut; Bella, Jasper and Alice, (and Molly the cat), have moved from the West Coast to the East Coast and are now living with Edward, Carlisle and Esme in Uncle Anthony's lovely, rambling house on the beach. Bella and Alice have opened a detective agency as a bit of fun and Edward has inherited the Medical Research laboratory after Anthony's death, but he still hasn't found out who was willing to sell their research to a national newspaper. Esme's recovery is slow and she is unaware she's a vampire. Bella and Edward are still passionately in love, but Bella is missing her family and friends desperately.
You are definitely in for an exciting and bumpy ride, as the detective agency puts a stick into a hornets' nest, Alice's past comes back to haunt her, and the mole in the laboratory is after a lot more than money. Also, and more importantly for those who like lemons, we find out why vampire loving is sooooooo much better than human loving!
As always, these characters belong to Stephenie Meyer - I've just borrowed them to have lots of fun with.
Strap yourself down (in a non-bondage way) and enjoy.
Joan (aka Michaelmas54) xx
CHAPTER ONE - BANG!
Connecticut Special Investigations Office - on a cool December afternoon
"I'm bored, Alice!"
"It's too easy."
"Doing this job."
"Yeah, I know, but I can't help it if I solve our cases really quickly."
"I accept that, but at least you could string some of the clients along for a bit."
"I suppose I could, but why bother? I mean take that asshole, Clem Baker, for instance. Anybody could see he was trying to set up a honey-trap."
"It was obvious, Bella. I didn't have to look five minutes into the future to see he was planning to shack up with a girl twenty years younger than himself."
"Okay, I suppose I could've guessed that when I saw him. Typical middle-aged guy with a fake tan, sports car and disco clothes, obviously in the middle of a mid-life crisis. But I would never have guessed he'd hired a Gigolo to pursue his wife to avoid paying alimony. What an asshole, asking us to get compromising photographs."
"Yup! A twenty-two carat asshole."
"Oh well, he got what he deserved."
"Yes, he did. Those were great 'compromising' photos you got of him with his bimbo. I just loved sending them anonymously to his wife."
"Hopefully she'll take him to the cleaners."
"She will; I've seen it. But would you believe he's actually grateful to me at the moment."
"How the hell did you manage that?"
"After the divorce, the bimbo would have fleeced him for everything. She's done this at least twice before to other guys. I found out she's a professional home wrecker and con-artist. The gigolo she recommended to Clem is actually her boyfriend and they work as a team. Yesterday I emailed Clem some background information on them, so he's had a very lucky escape."
"He's still an asshole though, even though he paid his account with a bonus."
Bella smiled at Alice for a moment then got up from her desk and wandered over to the window to see if anything was happening outside on the street. The window glass she was looking through was clear on the inside but tinted on the outside to lessen the glare of the sun during the day, plus it stopped pedestrians from seeing in. It also masked the effect the sun's rays had on her's and Alice's skin, which was vital if they had visitors to the office when it was sunny.
The street outside was quiet for a Friday afternoon and only a few pedestrians walked past while Bella was standing there; none of whom bothered to glance at the nondescript offices that had the initials CSI etched on the windows and on the sturdy security door that could only be opened by a release system linked to the intercom. CSI's clients almost exclusively made first contact either through accessing their website or via word-of-mouth recommendation from satisfied customers. Only occasionally would passers-by wander in off the street to ask for help.
It was just beginning to get dark after a dangerously bright winter's day. Bella glanced up at the sky that had been blue until about an hour ago, but was now turning a steely grey heralding a cold night to come. The wind had dropped considerably from this morning when they had left the house to travel to the office. A brisk and chilly easterly breeze had been buffetting the house all night and the grasses on the dunes that had been unable to resist the power of the wind coming in off the sea, were still lying flat against the sand when they drove up the track to the main road. It had been a perfect day for sailing though and Bella knew that Edward and Carlisle had been out on their brand new yacht, no doubt testing it to its absolute limit. Father and son had both been competent sailors before they were changed and now, using their enhanced abilities and abundant energy, they relished testing their skills on the open water, knowing that if the sea won the battle, their lives would not be forfeit because of their foolhardiness.
Fortunately Jasper hated the water, so he was always willing to stay at the beach house and work from home, at the same time keeping Esme company, while the girls were at CSI and Carlisle and Edward were either sailing or at Edward's laboratory, Masen Research.
Carlisle only occasionally went into the lab with Edward as he was enjoying being with his wife again; making up for all the lost years when Esme had lived in a care home after her mind completely failed her. Despite being changed, Esme was still quite fragile and couldn't be left on her own. Her short-term memory was poor and, more importantly, the family couldn't trust her to 'act human' if she strayed away from the house. She was improving every day, but still had a long way to go before she could be considered cured of her dementia and could start living independently again.
When they moved east, Jasper and Alice had also relocated Cullen Finance Consultancy, which was their investment business they had set up in Seattle. Alice was still predicting the volatile movements of the stock market with complete accuracy, so their clients were very content, but Jasper made sure their profits weren't too excessive as this would inevitably attract curious and unwelcome attention to their business from their competitors. Jasper was able to work remotely off his laptop while he was looking after Esme, but he preferred working in his registered office which was located in the same building as CSI on the floor directly above. When Jasper was there, Alice would split her time between the detective agency and Jasper's office and the arrangement worked very well.
As Bella gazed out the office window at the not particularly attractive view across the street, not for the first time she thought wistfully about Seattle; the city where she had spent the majority of her adult life. She missed the rain, which she recalled always had the smell and taste of the Pacific when it splattered on her upturned face. She missed the violent storms that rolled off Mount Ranier, lighting up the sky spectacularly before a thunderclap would make her jump out of her skin. She missed the fresh, chilly wind that would sweep down from Canada and Alaska, eventually bringing with it snow and ice to dump on the hardy population. But, most of all, she missed being able to walk freely in the sunshine in shorts and a t-shirt, or a pretty summer dress and Havianas, without having to worry that somebody would notice that her beautifully pale skin sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight.
Bella thought back to those first few weeks after Alice changed her and their first hunting adventures in the forests surrounding Forks, especially the night when they lay on the ground in the meadow looking up at the stars, which was when her's and Alice's notion to open a detective agency had first been aired. At the time it was just a flippant idea, but after they had settled on the east coast they decided to run with it. Connecticut Special Investigations was born not long after and they had opened its doors just over a month ago.
She smiled to herself when she remembered their first week at work. It had been a slow start with the phone ringing only once, and that was from a distraught woman who had lost her eighteen year old cat. You didn't have to be psychic to work out that the elderly moggy was more than likely in kitty heaven by now, but Alice had been very professional and had told the lady she would send out her 'team of investigators' to find out what had happened to Coco the cat.
Since then the calls had slowly increased and they now had two or three new enquiries every day; the cases ranging from matrimonial disputes, where either the husband or wife wanted their significant other to be followed, to minor crime that the local police force didn't have the manpower or inclination to investigate themselves. Occasionally they would get a slightly more exciting commission, like missing persons, company fraud, or their most interesting current case, which was gangs of drug dealers hanging around local high schools, but nothing really challenging had come their way as yet and both of them were desperate to be offered something they could really get their teeth into; in other words a proper mystery that Alice couldn't solve in five minutes.
Recently, as a favor to the community, Alice had been tipping off the police about serious crimes that were due to happen, mainly in their own neighborhood but some much further afield. She would do this anonymously, which delighted the police forces no end as they were more than willing to take the credit for their 'diligent detective work' when a criminal was caught in the act. Yesterday she had left a message with the local precinct saying that a major drug deal was about to go down at a club in the city today, so they would be watching the local news tomorrow morning with interest to see whether any arrests had been made.
Bella knew it frustrated Alice that she had to allow some awful crimes she had foreseen happening to actually happen, but she was wary of drawing attention to herself, as it was in the (admittedly unwritten) 'Volturi Code of Conduct for Vampires', that their kind should not use their special powers to interfere with the lives of the mortal population, apart from sucking the life-blood out of them of course. The last thing they needed was another visit from Aro and his brothers, so Alice was selective on the information she offered, concentrating on crimes against children and drug dealers; the two areas she abhorred the most.
Bella turned away from the window and looked over at Alice who was sitting in her smart black leather office chair with her feet up on the desk, while expertly painting her fingernails in lavender-blue polish. Alice hadn't changed at all since the day they first met in her office in Seattle. She still looked as though she was in her early twenties, even though she was well over a hundred years old. Her hair was jet black and silky, with no hint of gray to mar its youthful appearance. Her skin was flawless and her eyes a bright golden brown, enhanced by expertly applied make-up.
Clothes were still Alice's first love, apart from her love of Jasper of course, so it was fortunate that her investments in the stock market were successful enough to fund her lavish expenditure on designer clothes, shoes and accessories. Her latest acquisition, an exclusive lavender blue Vivienne Westwood purse, was sitting on her desk in pride of place so she could lust over it, until the next new purse arrived to replace it.
Since moving to Connecticut, Alice had helped Bella adjust to her life as a vampire, and apart from missing her family and friends who lived in Washington State, Bella seemed fairly content. Her new family were a tight-knit group, made even more so by a recent serious threat to their existence, but that problem had been resolved and everything was almost back to normal; whatever normal was for six vampires trying to exist in leafy Connecticut.
Bella wandered back to her desk as her cell phone had started ringing. It was Edward.
"Hi darling, where are you?" she said excitedly; still feeling the thrill of new love whenever he called her.
"Carlisle is just docking the boat. We'll clean up here then we'll head back to the beach house to relieve Jasper. How much longer will you be at the agency?"
"Not long. The phone has only rung once in the past hour and Alice has already got most of our cases solved due to her scarily clairvoyant brain, so we'll start shutting up the office for the weekend any time soon. Did you have fun today?"
"Yes, it was great. The new boat is amazing. It handles really well and the weather was perfect. As soon as I'm confident I can handle it on my own, we can go off in it for a few weeks if you like. We could sail down to the Caribbean."
"It's very sunny down there, Edward; just sayin'."
"Not at night it isn't. Just think of all that wonderful music."
"Okay okay, I'm sold. Just keep practising 'hoisting the mainsail' or whatever it is you do, and then we can disappear for a while."
"Great. Right, I'll see you in about an hour then at the beach house."
"Love you more."
Bella flipped her phone shut and dropped it in her purse, which was an old one of Alice's that was now out of favor. Most of Bella's clothes and accessories came via Alice, but they had different size feet so she had to buy her own shoes. Bella practically lived in sneakers though; footwear that Alice wouldn't be seen dead in, so there were countless boxes of hardly worn Manolos back at the house that would probably never see the light of day again.
Alice was blowing on her nails to speed up the drying process when the office telephone rang.
"I'll get it," Bella offered, not wanting Alice to ruin her manicure. She strode quickly over to the other side of Alice's desk and picked up the receiver. As she lifted it to her ear there was the sound of breaking glass, followed instantly by an ear-splitting bang in front of her. Alice shrieked as she was thrown backwards in her office chair before it crashed against the wall then it tipped forwards, tumbling her to the floor.
Bella dropped the phone and in a split second, moving quicker than the eye could see, she was over to where Alice was lying, just as another loud bang filled the air and she heard a whistling noise right next to her ear, followed by the sound of glass exploding behind her. She whipped her head around and saw the framed photo of Jasper Alice had on her desk, lying in shattered pieces on the floor.
Bella threw herself on top of Alice and covered her own face and Alice's with her arms. Several more bullets whipped through the office, embedding themselves into the walls and furniture; one slicing into the chair she had been sitting in earlier, making it spin around several times before it crashed into a filing cabinet.
"Keep absolutely still," she whispered to Alice, who was lying face down and not moving, either from fear or shock Bella couldn't tell. She knew if they'd still been human, Alice at least would be dead by now, but she also knew that nothing other than actual fire could end their lives, and that fact alone convinced her that whoever it was who was shooting at them didn't know they were vampires.
Another burst of gunfire sprayed the room and Bella felt a violent punch in her side then another on her leg. She knew she had been hit and the bullets had penetrated her clothing, but fortunately they weren't able to go any further. She glanced sideways without moving her head, and saw the muzzle of a high calibre gun pointing straight at her through a hole in the window and a squinting eye staring at her through another.
As she lay on the floor playing dead, Bella was listening intently to what was happening outside, trying to pick up any clues as to who was doing this. When the gunfire finally stopped, she heard two male voices emanating from the sidewalk.
"Did you get them?"
"Yes, both the bitches are down. I can see them on the floor. They're not going anywhere no more. They've got more holes in them than my Pa's fishing net."
"Right, let's get out of here and get our money from Frank and Louis."
Bella heard the sound of a motorbike revving its engine and the much louder tone as it pulled away at speed, then the sound gradually fading away into the distance. She stood up warily as she was still not entirely convinced that vampires were indestructible, but after examining her skin where she'd been hit she accepted that she was, thankfully, bullet-proof.
Bella carefully brushed small shards of glass from her clothing as she took in the devastation that was their office. She surveyed the scene in front of her and quickly counted at least sixteen holes in the window and many more spent bullets lying on the floor or embedded in the walls. She bent over to help Alice onto her feet and as she straightened up she noticed that one of the bullets had gone straight through the precious purse and was now sticking out of the desk. Alice hadn't spotted this; she was more concerned about the damage to her clothes, as a large bullet hole was evident near to where her redundant heart still lay.
"Look what those bastards have done to my jacket, Bella," she shrieked.
"Alice, you've just been shot at! Isn't that slightly more important than damage to your clothes?"
"I'm still standing, but those assholes have ruined my beautiful Dior jacket. This is, now was, an original from Paris; I had to pull all sorts of strings to get my hands on it. You don't get clothes like this off Craig's List."
"Never mind about that, Alice; someone's tried to kill us and those gunshots must've been heard miles away. The police will be here any minute and it's still light outside. We've got to get out of here fast so they'll presume we weren't here when the attack happened. Grab your things, go out the fire door and get the car. I'll lock the front door from the inside and turn off the computers."
Quicker than humanly possible, Bella made the office look as though they had already left for the day and exited through the back door. As she made her way to where their car had been parked across the street she heard another shriek, but she could tell from the tone of this one that Alice had just discovered her bag now had two extra holes.
A few seconds later a bright yellow Porsche roared up with a furious Alice at the wheel.
"When I get my hands on those bastards I'll tear them limb from limb. Nobody, I mean no-bo-dy, ruins anything designed by Vivienne Westwood and gets away with it. This means war! Who do you think was behind the attack, Bella? I want to go after them right now and show them what the consequences are if you piss-off a vampire."
"I've a good idea who they were and I'm sure you do too. But you're the one with the all-seeing-eye! How come you didn't see this coming?"
"I don't know, but when I get home I'm going to lie down in a darkened room until I come up with some answers."
Bella recalled the words of their attackers and she had already made an educated guess why they had been targeted. She was pretty sure Alice was probably thinking the same as her; that they'd been shot because of a case they were working on. Being murdered because of their investigations was not something they had considered when they set up CSI. Up until this point, running the agency had just been a game, but now it was deadly serious. She knew she had to drive that point home to Alice so she put on her most earnest and assertive tone of voice.
"Somehow we've got ourselves into some deep, deep shit, because, my dear Alice, that was a professional hit if ever I saw one. We mustn't think about revenge at the moment; this might have serious implications for the whole family and they've got to be involved with whatever action we take. This could compromise our anonymity and security. We need to get home in double-quick time, because these guys are after us and when they find out we're not dead, they'll certainly try to discover where we live."
Bella opened her cell and punched in the number for Edward so she could warn him about what had just happened. As she waited for him to reply, panic set in and her hands started to shake.
Alice usually drove sedately when Bella was in the Porsche, but with Bella's blessing this time she floored the gas pedal and the powerful machine responded to the invitation with a throaty roar. As they sped out of the city towards the coast and the security of the beach house, the traitorous sun that could reveal their otherworldliness slowly sunk below the horizon. By the time the beautiful wooden house by the sea came in to view, the safety of night had washed over the landscape and silver moonlight was dancing across the waves and onto the sparkling sand.
As Alice screeched the car to a halt, Edward and Jasper came out onto the deck. Literally in a flash, Bella and Alice were out of the car and into the arms of their men. It didn't make any difference to them that they were immortal vampires; they had been attacked, and that fact had slowly sunk in during the journey and they were both shocked and frightened. Now, they had to work out who was trying to kill them and, more importantly, why.
It was going to be a very long night.
I hope you enjoyed this first chapter. Alice and Bella have got themselves into some serious trouble but you'll have to wait a while to find out why. In the next chapter we go back a couple of months to just after Bella, Edward and his parents were changed, and we discover why Alice told Bella that vampire sex was "awesome"!
Reviews and feedback are always welcome and I answer every review, so thank you in advance. This is the only time I'll ask as I'm not a nagger for reviews, so you can read on with a clear conscience if reviewing is not your thing.