We file into the kinky office. It’s all shiny black and white leather/pleather and mirrored surfaces. You can see yourself in everything, even the desk is shiny black lacquer. Sheesh, it’s dizzying.

Allie and Rand are already seated in two shiny white chairs. Gerald and Redwood are the last ones through the door. The office isn’t exactly small, but with the overload of testosterone it feels like I’m in a matchbox. The door no sooner swings shut than that matchbox goes up in flames.

California Redwood puffs up and shoots us all a highly annoyed glare, “What the fuck are you all  doing fucking up my op?”

“What do you mean your fucking op?”  Rand shoots out of the shiny white chair

“Where the fuck is May Rose?” Lena’s still slinging Miss Wannabe around by her hair.

My fucking op.” Redwood bellows, “And just what the fuck do roses have to do with anything?”

“Um, you shouldn’t get so worked up. The toxin is still in your system.” Christy looks up from her scribbling.

“Not Roses you idiot!” Jack chimes in, shoving himself between Christy and Redwood, “May Rose, a woman who’s gone missing.”

Christy squeezes back around him, “Are you feeling any residual tingling?” She pulls an ordinary straight pin from one of her pockets.

“Huh?” Redwood blinks down at her.

This is a joint op between Homeland and the FBI.” Rand roars, his face going crimson.

“Homeland?” A shout of derisive laughter leaves Redwood, “Shit, you guys don’t know your own asses. I’ve been working this case for six  mon...Ow! Dammit, what the fuck, girl?” Redwood jerks his hand back, sucking on the finger Christy just stabbed.

“Don’t fucking yell at her.” Jack pulls Christy behind him

“Full feeling in the extremities.” Christy’s muttering, scribbling and checking her watch.

Jack then turns on Madame, “Rachel, just what the fuck is going on in this club anyway?”

“Back off Jack.” Madame X tries going all Domm-ee on him.

“Don’t you try that shit with me, Rachel. I’ll shut this place fucking down and run your lying ass in.” Jack snarls with the rage of a man betrayed.

Redwood and GI Rand are nose to nose shouting curses.  Dominatrix girl is screaming police brutality. Lena’s shouting at her to spill her fucking guts before she gets fucking gutted. Gerald is saying something about everybody taking a breath. Jack’s backing Madame X into a corner, and I am just done.

I jump on top of the shiny, kinky, black lacquer desk, “All of you, shut the fuck up!”

Everybody freezes. Thank the Goddess. Course everybody not related to me is looking at me like I’m ten kinds of crazy, but hell, I can work with that, “Now listen up. I’m only going to say this once. That guy,” I point to the California Redwood, “Is with ATF. That guy” My finger swings to GI Rand, “Is with Homeland. May Rose is an innocent who got tangled up in your cross-over, cluster-fuck of an op. We” I throw my fingers at my sisters, “Are here to get her back. Little Miss….” I fling my hand in the direction of the dominatrix

“I-want-to-be-a-bad-ass….” Lena fills in for me.

“Is using your club,” I turn one Madame X, “For drug distribution. The guy who has May is an enforcer working for the guy all of you are after.”

“I don’t know how you know all that,” Redwood swings his glare on me, “But you girls need to butt out of what’s none of your business, before you fuck-up another op.”

Oh fucking hell. For the second time in under two hours I remind myself that killing people for getting on your last Goddess-be-damned nerve is frowned upon.

“Shit, I knew he looked familiar,” Lena looks Redwood up and down,  “You were there that night.”

That night. That mid-winter night almost ten years ago. Memories rise.

“Yeah, you girls got in the middle of that, too.” Redwood snaps.

“Good thing we did.” Lena takes the bait and runs with it, “Since you guys couldn’t protect your own.”

I dig my nails into my palms. The pain cuts through the memories, holding me in the now,  “Lena give it a rest. And you, Redwood, don’t even start. She’s right and you know it. Gavin would have died that night, if we hadn’t shown up.”

Redwood shrugs, “He knew the risks.”

Everything around me disappears. From somewhere far away I hear female voices.

“Mac Don’t….

“Oh, this is going to be bad…”

“You got any Sulfuric Acid around here?”

I smell sweet olive and mountain laurel. The cold bite of winter chills my face and hands. Then I pick up the coppery scent and see Gavin, large, powerful, invincible Gavin McIntyre tied to a chair, unconscious, covered in blood. And for the time it takes me to cross the room and check his pulse, my world goes dark.

I hear that evil bitch’s laugh.

The vision spirals around me in a black haze of rage and in the center of it I see the man who would have let Gavin die.

Somebody tried to grab me – too late. I’m not as fast as Lena, but I was motivated. I leaped down from the desk, my feet barely touching the floor before I was moving, two strides and I was in front of him. The dagger fell into my hand. I raised my other one like I was going to slap him. Redwood bought it, blocking the blow, and distracting him from the dagger slicing through shirt and skin from his abdomen to his chest. A single shallow cut, but enough to bleed. This man would bleed.

He jumped back, trapping my dagger hand at my side. His eyes wide, “Shit, you really are crazy.”

“That’s just one.” The enraged words pour from me like venom, “She sliced him 67 times. Gavin McIntyre is ours. He belongs to us. She made him bleed.”  I close my eyes and see the bitch on the floor – tied up, helpless, bleeding, dying. Peace blooms in my chest. I open my eyes and speak the words softly with the reverence they deserve, “We. Bled. Her. Dry.”

“Mia died in custody.” Redwood says, halfway between a statement and a question, “Brain aneurysm.”

“It was one of the first toxins I developed on my own.” I hear Christy’s voice from far away, “Looks like an aneurysm, but it’s not.”

The room is graveside silent. So silent I can hear the beat of this man’s heart. Why should his heart beat? He would have let Gavin die.

“Mckenna, sweetie,” I feel an arm go around me, see blond hair in my periphery, feel it tickle my cheek, “We need to find May.”

No, I need to stop this man’s heart.

“He’s no danger to Gavin, sweetheart. He’s just posturing because they miscalculated and almost lost one of their own.” The words, in that familiar husky voice, have the ring of truth.

I inhale heady spice with a touch of smoke, “Prada.”

I turn my head to see Allie gracing me with one of her beautiful smiles, even as her eyes glisten with tears, “Right again, but you sort of cheated. I was wearing it earlier.”

The room zooms back into focus. Mirrors, black lacquer and all.  I see Lena poised to strike. Her eyes on G I Rand who’s got one hand reaching under his shirt ready to pull a weapon. Christy has another tiny spray bottle out, she’s standing next to Jack, who’s also watching me. So my sisters were ready to take out the men who were preparing to take me out. Poor shmucks would have never seen it coming. The Dominatrix is backed into a corner and whimpering. Madame X is white under her mask, and well shit, “Oh for fuck’s sake, take that mask off.”

The entire room breathes a collective sigh of relief.

“You can let go now.” Allie says to the Redwood.

“Yeah, okay” He nods and slowly releases my arms his fingers uncurling one by one, “I’m going to let you go.”

I’d let loose a smart ass comeback, but that was a close one. Guy took me by surprise.

The last finger leaves my wrist. Allie holds out her hand and I surrender the dagger. My brain goes a little haywire on occasion, better safe than…..a bloody mess.

She wraps me in her arms, “I’ll take good care of it.” She whispers.

“I know.” I’m very attached to my dagger. Then for her ears alone, “Thanks.”

Other than Gavin, Allie is the only one who’s been successful in talking me back to the present. Maybe because she too, has a weird memory anomaly to deal with. She doesn’t get trapped in the past, but she remembers every day of her life. It has its own difficulties.

She releases me with one last squeeze then turns on Redwood, “You should apologize for being so callous about Gavin’s life. He may not be important to you, but we love him.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Redwood backs up his eyes shooting from me to Allie, trying to figure out what just happened. Good luck on that one. Finally, he decides whatever freakishness he witnessed is past. “Sorry, you were right.” An honest rueful smile hints at his mouth, “Kind of tough on a man’s ego being outmaneuvered by a bunch of teenage girls.”

“I’m sure.” Allie nods and smiles then turns her gaze on the other two men, “And I feel I should tell you, if you had so much as mussed Mckenna’s ponytail. You’d have been dead men walking. I don’t care how friendly you think you are with Gavin, he’ll end you if he even suspects you might someday be a threat to any one of us.” Her eyes land very significantly on Jack, who‘s eyes are back on Christy.

I think it’s time to get back on track. I stumble over to a chair and very deliberately focus my mind elsewhere, “Now, little Miss Dominatrix, why don’t you tell us all about whatever the hell it is you’re smuggling through this club?”

Before she can open her mouth I hear Jack whisper, “So just what all have you got in those pockets, Tiny?”