Chapter One

 

Her cousin was a slut. There was no doubt about it, as far as Jamie was concerned. Amanda was only eighteen, but from what she'd heard and from the pictures she was flipping through on her Facebook page she had little doubt.

Who put bikini pictures of themselves on Facebook anyway? Let alone thong bikinis? That she was about forty pounds overweight just added to the 'eww' factor for Jamie.

She was propping up the wall of a Chase bank on Seventh Avenue in the Times Square district, skimming through various emails and notifications on her cell phone. It was a dull, overcast day in the city of New York, but thankfully, cool enough she didn't have to worry about what she could wear that would be cool and still hide her bulletproof vest.

Hockey season had started, and she was wearing her navy-blue Rangers jersey over jeans. One leather sneaker was holding her up and the other was pressed against the bricks. Her long red bangs hid most of her eyes from those passing by or milling around.

They did not stop her from seeing them, however, as her eyes rose and fell frequently, keeping up on information on the phone while keeping watch over her small, assigned patch of the sidewalk. She'd been assigned this task by Lieutenant Foster, who was under the impression – because she'd worked to give him that impression – that she didn't want it.

Jamie hadn't shown any sign of disappointment at the orders. People would have been surprised if she had. It wasn't in her nature to demonstrate emotions – other than, on occasion, anger – in front of her colleagues. She wasn't even that good at doing so in front of friends and family.

She had cultivated an attitude of cool, composed sphinx-like calm since junior high. It had served her well through years of teasing, mostly about her hair, but also the normal harassment an unusually tall teenage girl could expect both from hungry eyed boys and jealous girls.

Midgets and bitches, she had dismissed them as. Being the tallest student in the class could be hard on a girl of fifteen, but she'd persevered. It had helped (a lot) when her breasts had blossomed and her hips had rounded. Nobody called her beanpole after that. But she was still a head taller than most of her classmates.

 The boys, except the very tall ones, were, for the most part, far too intimidated to make a real play for her. The girls simply found her confusing and irritating. She didn't like the things most of them liked. She was too much into sports and weird male interests like guns, cars, and the martial arts, and had been known to exact physical retribution on people who did things she didn't like, particularly boys who had suggested an exaggerated degree of physical intimacy with her.

She had a slightly husky voice, even then, which led some to suspect she was a lesbian. The cliché was damaged, though, by her habitually long hair. And while she normally disdained dresses and skirts her wardrobe choices were hardly mannish.

Jamie had simply confused everyone in high school. They didn't know what to make of her, and so she'd been something of an outsider.

That hadn't bothered her very much. A highly intelligent girl who had a shrewd insight into the personalities of most of the people she encountered, she was also, by her own unrepentant assessment, a judgmental bitch. She not only did not suffer fools gladly, she refused, if given a choice, to suffer them at all.

Most girls bored her to tears. She had no interest in flowers, diets, makeup, fashion, or Hollywood. She had even less in their constant plotting and planning and desperation to impress this or that boy.

Most boys, on the other hand, were walking penises with the morals and sensitivity of jackals.  They would do, say and promise anything to get their hands on a girl's body, and then gleefully brag about it afterward to anyone and everyone they ran into.

So, there were very few of her schoolmates she would have considered accepting into her small circle of friends to begin with. That circle was entirely composed of self-confident, laid-back, easy-going people who didn't get easily upset by life.

Allison Tyler was one such person. Allison was a blonde, but Jamie forgave her for that since she didn't act the part. She was an athlete in high school and college, and now worked as a physiotherapist in a rehab clinic. She was a non-nonsense person who took others as she found them and dealt with them honestly.

She had a slender, athletic body, a beautiful face, and had always been an incredibly healthy girl. Which made it all the more ironic that her little brother Allan was autistic. He wasn't so autistic that he couldn't function on his own, but he was clearly and obviously challenged.

At twenty he worked as a messenger in a downtown bank. It was a decent entry level job for a person his age, though in his case it wasn't likely to ever grow into anything more complex. Still, it paid well enough for him to get his own small apartment in Brooklyn, something he was extremely proud of.

He hadn't been able to make the rent this month, though, because he'd been robbed. Two women, one a heavy (fat) middle aged one, and the other shorter, prettier and younger, had accosted him right here at this location.

The little one had begged him to make a donation to the sick children fund, and wouldn't take no for an answer. Allan was a particularly mild-mannered boy, and lacked social skills. He hadn't actually known how to tell her to go away, and been persuaded to put his card into the bank machine to her right to make a donation.

Once the code was entered the woman had pushed him aside, ignoring his protests, taken most of his money, all the machine allowed at one time, and then left with the bigger one helping hide what was going on and pushing Alan back when he asked for his money back. Alan had been taught all his life he wasn't allowed to push girls so had been fairly easily defeated.

The camera in the machine had taken very clear pictures of the younger woman, and another closed-circuit camera had recorded both women and the conversation.

It wasn't her case, of course. She didn't get cases. She was simply an ordinary patrol cop, who didn't have to wear a uniform. She was assigned to Midtown Manhattan precinct's Anti-crime squad. Their job was simply to patrol in plain clothes – street clothes, not the business-wear detectives had to wear, blend in, and not be noticed as cops.

They were usually assigned to higher crime areas of every precinct, or, in the case of the Times Square District, to places where the city wanted a heavy police presence but didn't want it noticed. No point in scaring the tourists, after all.

Whenever Jamie was assigned to foot patrol in tourist areas she moved around a lot. Her long legs would carry her up one block and down another and back again, as her jade green eyes skimmed over pedestrians and glanced in the glass windows of the shops, restaurants and bars she passed.

Today she had parked herself near the outdoor ATMs in the wall to her right, and spent her time propping up the wall and surfing social media and news sites. To anyone watching, she looked like a typical millennial, wearing earphones and devoted to her phone.

The earphones weren't attached to an IPOD, though, but to a small police radio on the back of her belt. It had several frequencies, and at the moment was set to receive signals on two of them. The first was the general NYPD dispatcher, the second had a limited range, and was for the members of the Anti-Crime squad to communicate with each other.

The only member of the Anti-crime squad near enough to reach her was her partner for the day, Marco Iapolini. He was temporarily assigned to Anti-Crime – a unit made up primarily of young cops who had demonstrated unusual initiative, intelligence and capability.

It was only a temporary assignment, due to her partner Alaric Mueller still being injured, though he was expected back soon, and her acting partner, Robert Taylor, who had managed to get himself stabbed, much to Jamie's quiet satisfaction.

She'd been tempted to shoot him any number of times, herself. He was an incompetent, a braggart, a bully, and an insufferable letch who had made his interest in Jamie's body repeatedly, and bluntly obvious despite her being equally blunt about her total lack of interest in him.

Marco seemed to share his interest in Jamie's body, which didn't surprise her since most of the men in the precinct shared that particular interest, but was far more polite and discrete about it. Since his normal job was as a regular patrol officer in uniform in Midtown North she had no doubt he'd seen the half-naked pictures of her which continued to make the rounds. But he'd never hinted at it to her.

He was also painfully eager to please. Anti-crime was a short-cut to the detective squad, and a lot cleaner than going through Narcotics. It also looked very good on an application for the sergeant's promotion.

It was also a lot less routine and boring than uniformed patrol. Anti-crime rarely bothered with writing traffic tickets unless someone irritated them. They weren't assigned routine radio calls like domestic disputes, drunks or neighbors screaming at each other either. Nor did they have to direct traffic, stand guard at crime scenes, or watch over parades.

Of course, the uniforms rarely did foot patrol, but in a tourist area like Times Square that could be an interesting novelty, or so it had proved with Iapolini. He carried on a mostly one-sided conversation with Jamie as he walked around nearby. Occasionally she would grunt or make some similar noise so he understood she was listening.

Amanda really needed to go on a diet, she thought, making a face and moving her thumb to check the sports scores.

She noticed the Asian woman in the black coat who moved into line behind the little old lady, and noticed the larger Asian woman, standing a few feet back. She didn't give any notice of this as she looked at the sports and muttered. “Damn Islanders.”

The little microphone was attached to her wrist in the form of a wrist watch, and she heard Iapolini eagerly acknowledge the phrase. “I'll be there in one minute!” he replied.

The customer in front of the ATM moved away and the little old lady moved forward and placed her card in the slot. The smaller Asian woman moved to one side a little to look over her shoulder.

“Oh, you are so rich!” she gushed, leaning forward.

The old lady turned, startled.

“I sorry. I never use machine before!” the Asian woman said in thickly accented English. “I watch to see how you do, yes!?”

The older woman frowned uncertainly as the Asian woman moved forward.

“You push keys here, yes?”

“Well... yes, but...”

“You push this to take money free?”

“It's not free but you – .

“You push any number amount?” the Asian woman asked eagerly.

“No, no. You can only push what you have in the bank,” the elderly woman said, flustered.

The Asian woman began to push buttons.

“Wait! I can show you how it works but you need to have your own card!”

“I have card! See!?” The Asian woman held up a card, waving it.

“Well don't enter things on my account!” the elderly woman said.

“Is bank, yes?”

“But it's not your account!”

The larger Asian woman moved in, confronting the elderly woman.

“You tell me please how to find Korea embassy?” she asked in a loud voice.

The elderly woman was taken aback by her, especially since the large (fat) Asian woman had moved in very close to her.

“I don't know... wait. Hey!” she said, grabbing at the smaller Asian woman's shoulder.

“I go now. Thank you so much!” the smaller Asian woman said, scooping bills out of the slot and turning away.

She physically ran into Jamie, who had pushed herself off the wall, turned, and stepped forward two paces. Since Jamie's chest was just about at the same level as the woman's face, that meant she was eye to eye with Jamie's badge, which was hanging on a lanyard she'd just pulled out of the neck of her Rangers jersey and dropped.

The woman stared at it, then raised her face, open mouthed, to look at Jamie.

“I'll take that,” Jamie said, tugging the wad of cash from the woman's hand.

“I-I am stranger here! Do I make mistake?” the woman gulped.

“You bet,” Jamie said, grabbing her arm and spinning her around to push up against the wall.

The larger Asian woman stepped forward, saw the badge, and turned quickly away, then almost ran past Iapolini.

“Grab her,” Jamie said, thrusting out a finger at the woman's back.

Iapolini grabbed her by the back of the collar, which was cliché in action, swung her around and pushed her against the other wall. They frisked and cuffed the two of them as the elderly woman looked on uncertainly.

“Can I have my money back, please?” the elderly woman asked anxiously.

“Ma-am, we have to inventory it for evidence at the station, but then you can have it back,” Jamie said.

“But... I don't – .

“We'll drive you there and back,” Jamie assured her, calling for a pair of cars for transportation.

She would have liked to just hand the money back but history said you never let people walk away without damage or a lot of them wouldn't bother to show up to press charges. And she wanted charges pressed.

The younger Asian woman had dropped her wide-eyed innocent look since she'd been cuffed and now had a sullen expression on her face as Jamie looked through her wallet.

“Tenshi Jeong? That's your name?”

The woman glowered at her.

“Don't piss me off any more than you already have or you'll regret it,” she said, hardening her voice.

“Yes,” the woman snapped.

Jamie was already rehearsing how she was going to present this to get the charge bumped from fraud to robbery. She could make a case that the women had used force, both in this case and the one with Allan in that they had taken the money and then the victims would have had to use force to overcome them.

It was true the force the woman had used was small, but then, the resistance they needed to overcome was small, too, and the law didn't specify how much force was required. Fraud, unless it was on a very big scale, was a misdemeanor, but Robbery, even third degree, and she hoped to go for second, was a felony, and she really wanted these bitches to go to jail.

If she took off her bulletproof vest, as she did sometimes when spending a lot of time at the station doing paperwork, and changed to a tank top that new ADA Michaelson would really try hard to please her.

A blue and white showed up, and she had Iapolini and the two suspects get into the back for the trip back to the precinct. Then Nora Richards and Lyle Jefferson showed up in an unmarked car and she got in the back with Mrs. Feldman, the elderly woman.

“So, you finally caught your scammers,” Richards said with a grin from the front passenger seat. “Congratulations. You've been hanging around the ATM for more than a week.”

“Off and on,” Jamie said. “Let me ask you about the law, Nora. I want them charged with Robbery.”

Richards pursed her lips, and Jamie explained her reasoning.

“It makes sense, but you'll have to get the Lieutenant to approve.”

No I won't. I'm gonna talk to Michaels and get him to approve.”

“Michaels likes sure things,” Jefferson said.

“Yeah, but I think he'll do it if I ask nicely.”

Richards raised her eyebrows and Jamie smiled smugly.

“You're very cocky for a rookie, you know,” Richards said.

“I have the strength of ten for my heart is pure,” Jamie replied.

“Uh huh.”

They dropped them off at the precinct station on W54th and Jamie led Mrs. Feldman inside where they counted out her money while she signed the charge sheet Jamie drew up. Jamie also sort of hinted that if the charges were dropped the money would have to be given back to the woman she had taken it from – which was Tenshi Jeong.

Then she called Allison and arranged for her and her mom to bring her brother to the precinct to pick the women out of a line-up. There wasn't any doubt, though, as to their identity. The video was clear and crisp and in living color.

She went to the locker room, removed the Rangers jersey and her bulletproof vest and changed into a tight tank top she used for jogging. Humming as she looked in the mirror, she drew her red hair back into a loose tail and wrapped an elastic around it, then went off to find Michaels.

It occurred to her as she did just how much she'd changed in the last few months. She'd gone from being determined to look asexual, to be taken as just another cop and to downplay her femininity, much less her looks, to shamelessly using her looks and body whenever she thought it would bring an advantage.

She pondered that as she headed upstairs, but didn't think it was so much a matter of morality as it was of confidence of her reputation on the job, and comfortableness in her sexuality. People had already seen her naked, a lot of them, thanks to her boyfriend Danny and his kinky games. And those pictures of her had made the rounds of the precinct, and probably well beyond.

People thought she was hot. Lots of people. Men and women. And that no longer even bothered her, much less embarrassed her. She accepted it as a matter of course, and even let it kind of stroke her ego. She'd been exposed to the raw and open desire, approval, and hunger, of so many people over the past few months that guys appreciating what she looked like in a tight tank top was practically nothing.

Not even when they could notice the indentations of her nipple rings through the fabric.

Heck, the whole precinct seemed to have seen that picture Danny had taken of her in nothing but a thong when her phone had been stolen, and then recovered by the detective squad. It wasn't full frontal, thankfully, but while it was from the rear it was also from an angle off to the right, so that some side boob showed, and just enough of the edge of the ring for you to know there was one.

So people knew she had nipple rings. So? That suggested she had a sex life. So? She was twenty-two and had a regular boyfriend. People weren't going to think she was a virgin.

They probably didn't suspect her boyfriend liked to tie her up and do nasty things to her, and they certainly didn't suspect just how feverish that kind of thing made her. They also definitely didn't suspect that he had convinced her to strip at a couple of out-of-town clubs a few times, or the breathless heat that had brought her.