Authors: Debra Purdy Kong
Tags: #Suspense, #Adventure, #Thriller
For my mother, Vivian, who waited a long time for this.
WHEN BENNY LEE
hit the M3 bus's brakes for the third time in a minute, tension rippled through Casey's lower back. Usually relaxed and patient, old Benny was slipping. Maybe she would, too, if this was her first day back driving a bus in tedious, noon-hour congestion after six months on nights. Vancouver might be beautiful, but the traffic would always be horrible. With any luck, she'd nail the pervert sharing her seat before Benny put her in traction.
Casey unfastened the buttons on her tight leather jacket and took a deep breath. She exhaled slowly through her nose, like the yoga video had instructed. The exercise was supposed to release tension. Fat chance.
The suspect pressed his thigh against hers. His gray suit, crewcut, and square glasses portrayed respectability, yet his flushed, middle-aged face and wandering hand suggested something else.
His hand crept closer to her thigh. He always chose the right side of the bus, always picked an aisle seat near the exit, and always made his move as the bus approached its next stop. Lately, he'd grown reckless by staying on the M3 instead of switching routes like he used to.
Fingers spidered closer to her leg. Casey watched Benny drive. As arranged, she would speed dial Benny's cell number just before she was ready to nab the guy. Victims had reported that the suspect didn't carry a weapon, so Benny would keep the doors shut until she'd cuffed him. The problem with this plan was the passenger distracting Benny with loud complaints about dirty seats and rude passengers.
The M3 approached Commercial and Broadway, and the suspect's thigh nudged Casey's a little harder. She removed her cell phone from her pocket. Adrenalin raced through her as she watched pedestrians head for the SkyTrain entrance at the intersection's southeast corner. The light turned green and the bus eased forward. Sweet, overripe aftershave nauseated her. Oh crap, the jerk was panting. Fingertips crept toward the garter peeking below her miniskirt. Casey hit speed dial, then shoved the phone in her pocket. The suspect moaned. Benny eased the bus to the stop as the pervert squeezed her left thigh.
“Right!” Casey grabbed his wrist and flashed her
security. Your party's over, dude.”
The man jerked his arm free. A moment later, he was out and running. Benny had missed the signal.
“Benny, make the call!” Casey rushed down metal-riveted steps and onto the sidewalk crowded with people waiting to enter the bus.
Running north on Commercial Drive, the suspect smacked into pedestrians. Even in stilettos, Casey gained on him. She'd spent too much time practising to let criminals get away. The sidewalk became an overpass and chances for escape diminished. Below them, rail tracks ran along a steep ravine. Casey heard the whirl of an approaching SkyTrain.
The suspect tried to barge through a group of teens, allowing Casey to close the gap. She leapt and tackled him. They hit the ground and rolled into a chain-link fence. Straddling his back, she clamped the cuffs on him and said, “I'm making a citizen's arrest for sexual assault.”
“You can't do that!”
“Section 494 of the Criminal Code says I can.” Casey caught her breath as she removed a card tucked behind her security license. “Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it's my duty to inform you that you have the right to retain counsel without delay.”
By the time she'd finished reading everything on the card, people had started to gather.
“Do you understand?” Casey asked him. “Do you want to call a lawyer?”
“I want you to get my wallet and get the hell off me, bitch!”
Casey spotted an open wallet near the suspect's face. Wary of accusations of theft, she said, “I'll watch it till the police arrive.”
“I'll sue you, you whore.”
“Wrong profession. As I said, I'm with Mainland Public Transport security.”
Maybe she should sue him for a new pair of stockings. Reasonably priced fishnet was almost impossible to find. Casey glanced at the gaping hole on her shin and then popped a stick of gum in her mouth. Chewing always slowed the adrenalin.
“You'd better find my glasses too,” the suspect said.
They were wedged among weeds and grimy candy wrappers at the fence, but Casey opted to stay where she was. She noticed the family photo in the guy's wallet: three young kids, the suspect, and a plump brunette. Casey shook her head. What kind of family man spent his lunch hours squeezing women's thighs on buses? How pathetic was that?
Benny hurried up to her. “Sorry, Casey. You okay?”
“I called the cops and Stan wants you back at the office. Some detective's on his way to see you. Looks like your week's off to a hell of a start.”
Casey popped a bubble. She'd handed the authorities a fair number of delinquents over recent weeks, so police chats were becoming routine.
The Vancouver police arrived at Commercial Drive later than expected. Forty-five minutes passed before she bounded up Mainland's two flights of stairs and into the security department. It'd take at least another half hour to write her report.
As she greeted the security department's admin assistant, Amy, Casey spotted a new chair next to Stan's door.
“Does Stan know it's pink?” Casey asked.
“It's not pink, it's dusty rose, or so the catalogue says.” Amy lifted the bifocals from the chain around her neck and took a closer look while she tried not to smile.
Casey grinned. “I'd emphasize the dusty part.”
“I thought I heard your voice,” Stan said, emerging from his office.
Oh lord, her supervisor was having yet another fashion disaster day. Hard as Casey tried, she couldn't convince Stan that checkered sports jackets and striped shirts didn't work for most human beings. She and his wife had nearly given up trying.
“So you caught the pervert single-handedly,” he said.
Based on Stan's disapproving tone and the way he crossed his arms over his chest, Casey knew what was coming.
“What happened to observe and report? Since when do my officers put themselves in danger?”
“But he wasn't armed and I experienced the crime firsthand, excuse the pun.” She flashed a smile, but Stan didn't look amused.
“Tackling someone is hardly non-violent intervention, Casey. I thought I told you that use of force isn't part of the game plan anymore.”
Casey sighed. It was hard to keep up with, let alone apply, all the changes and restrictions Mainland had imposed since she first trained in security. And why was Stan being such a hard-ass when she'd caught the guy?
He lowered his arms. “Write up your report after you see our guests.” He nodded toward the door.
“Guests? Benny said a detective wanted to see me.”
“There are two of them.”
She noticed the way Stan's lips pressed together until they almost disappeared between his gray beard and moustache. His lips always vanished when he was tense. “What's up?”
His gaze didn't quite meet hers. “You'll see.”
Hmm. The last time Stan avoided eye contact and tensed up like that was two years ago, when she'd told him she was divorcing Greg. He never had coped with crying women too well.
“Tomorrow you can start on the purse snatchings you've been bugging me for,” he said. “Drop by for details whenever. I'm going to grab some lunch.”
Leaning close to the door, Casey heard male voices. She strutted inside. It took three seconds to realize that her black leather miniskirt, torn stockings, and stilettos were making a bad impression.
The older man, stiff and solemn in his brown suit, stared at her spiky hair while the younger guy glanced at her D cups. Understandable. The girls were barely contained in the tank top under her jacket.
On the other side of the door, Stan yelled, “I ain't sitting in a friggin' pink chair!”
Casey smiled as she nodded to the officers. “I'm Casey Holland.”
“Detective Lalonde with the West Vancouver Police Department,” the older man said, displaying his shield. “This is Corporal Krueger.”
West Van police? What were they doing out of their jurisdiction? As Krueger shook Casey's hand, his long thick moustache twitched.
“While we waited for you, Mr. Cordaseto told us a bit about
,” Lalonde said. “I'd forgotten that the government's pilot project became privately funded. I thought it was still at least partly subsidized.”
“Funding ran out, but the government insists on fewer cars on the road, so investors bought it twelve years ago, for a good tax break, apparently. Mainland fills the void in the suburbs and shares the load with TransLink buses on busier routes.”
“I understand you've worked here ten years?”
Why were they interested in her background? “Yesâfive as a driver and five in security.”
“And you're a civilian doing police work?” Krueger asked.
Casey didn't appreciate the disdain in his voice. “It's not much different than loss prevention work in retail, except we're mobile, and, as you guys know, it's too expensive to have police riding buses all day nabbing vandals and creeps. Most of the people we catch commit petty crimes and end up with fines, probation, or community service.”
“The suspect you pursued today sounded dangerous.”
“Not really. He squeezes thighs and runs away,” she replied. “If he was armed or more aggressive, the police would be involved.”
“Do you like this work?” Krueger asked.
“It's more interesting than being a driver, unless you count the time a guy pulled a knife on me. After that, I went into security to learn how to protect myself and others.”
She was proud of the gutsy reputation she'd earned among Mainland's staff, even from old-fashioned farts who thought women didn't belong in security.
Lalonde said, “Few people would choose security work after an experience like that.”