The door opened with a loud bang as Connie and Leona entered the conference room. There was rage on the faces of the women and the group in the room looked up in fear and shock. Slade rose immediately approaching the vampires. He took Leona's hand pressing it to his lips trying to console and calm her. She tore her hand from his, glaring at the group around the table. She glided to the head of the table and stood there commanding everyone's attention. All eyes focused on her, as Eran turned off the big TV.
Leona began, "Gustaf has left the country to visit Kiev and consult with the officials there. He will set the groundwork to establish a VJS in that city. While he is gone, I am in charge of VJS here. Connie is my assistant in all matters preternatural. I will want everyone to bring this current case to a close while Gustaf is gone. Where are we with the case?"
Slade spoke for the group, "Video surveillance is working at both sites where Carlo and Molly appear. Things are quiet for now."
"Is there anything we could do to make the case come to a close? I prefer it not come to trial while Gustaf is away." Leona spoke tersely.
Eran spoke, "We started to look at alternative and additional things that could be done to move the case along. If we could get someone on the inside to observe and collect evidence that would be ideal. We might have two officers that would be perfect for the task."
Connie smiled asking, "Who do we have that has not been to the tavern or the estate? Almost every VJS officer has been there."
Eran continued, "Quinn and Anna, his assistant, have not been there in any official or social capacity. Anna looks like she could be a good barmaid and Quinn a patron of the bar after work. They are new to the area and blend in well. We started to talk about that possibility."
Connie smiled, "That sounds like a good idea, but let's think outside the box on this one. The preternatural community has been talking about an incubus being in the city in addition to Molly. If that is true, we face an even larger problem. We think he is a friend or old lover of Molly's come to visit, but not for long if we can stop him."
Eran and Slade exchanged glances with concerned faces. If there were an incubus in the city with Molly, that would signal trouble in the preternatural community. The two could spread terror among the community because they hunted in pairs. If they captured a pair of victims, the bodies would appear within hours. The Preternatural Police Squad needed to take immediate action. Leona knew this and told the assembled officers the same message.
As everyone sat thinking about the new threat, a soft knock sounded on the conference room door. Eran opened the door and smiled, as Gwen entered accompanied by another young woman. Gwen took the chair to Quinn's left, and the other young woman sat to his right. As she sat down, Anna surveyed the assembled group. Quinn spoke up and made the appropriate introductions around the table. After the introductions, talk shifted back to infiltrating Molly's Tavern from the inside.
Quinn spoke, "You have all met Anna, now. Don't you agree that she would be an easy fit for a barmaid at Molly's Tavern? Anna is smart, a quick learner, a fierce woman, and a loyal police officer. Her abilities as a wood nymph would allow her to fit easily in with Molly's staff."
Leona looked skeptical but demurred to the will of the group. "I think she will work nicely, but the fact she is a preternatural may work against her. We need to do something, and she is it for now." Connie nodded agreement with Leona. The rest of the table quickly agreed, and the decision became unanimous. After the decision Leona calmed and sat beside Slade resting her head on his shoulder. Such expressions from Leona were rare, but Gustaf's absence made Leona tense and insecure. She needed Slade's approval and support more emotionally than physically.
The discussion of Carlo and Molly continued for an hour with some plans made and data gathered. The infiltration of the tavern was the most important topic. With Quinn and Anna being new to the group, they needed to learn about the VJS rules of engagement. After that discussion, Quinn moved closer to Gwen and covertly grasped her hand under the table. Gwen flushed bright pink as a blush spread through her body. Everyone at the table noticed but said nothing.
Connie listened to the banter around the table and the plans for trapping Molly and Carlo. The more she heard, the angrier she became. She looked at Slade, and he glared back at her. She understood his hesitation to speak up and take over the investigation. Seeing his ire calmed Connie but added to her resolve to speak with him after the meeting. Her thoughts grew speculating that she and Slade could help things along better than the planned subterfuge.
Before the tavern opened, Anna borrowed some peasant type clothes from Connie to wear at Molly's. With her size and shape her appearance fit with the atmosphere of the tavern. When the tavern opened, Anna wandered in looking for Diana, the bartender. With her appearance and her exotic Russian accent, Diana hired her immediately and put her to work cleaning tables and setting up for the day. Anna was ready; now it was time to wait and observe until Quinn arrived "after work" later in the afternoon. Things appeared to be moving smoothly.
With the meeting over and everyone gone but Slade and Connie, it was time for the old partners to talk and do something with the case. As in the past, Connie and Slade usually found some obscure way to make a case break or force the guilty to slip and incriminate them. The duo usually was nearby to catch the illegal act and lock up the guilty parties. They hoped that this time, they could do it again.
"Hey Slade, let's take a ride to DD's. I feel like getting out of here so we can chat unobserved or overheard. I have an idea how to move this case along to a speedy conclusion." Connie spoke softly.
Slade went to his desk, grabbed his coat and keys and exited the VJS building with Connie following him. They got into the VJS SUV and drove to DD's. As Connie entered DD's, the gathered other police greeted her warmly poking fun at her and cracking jokes. Slade sat next to Connie at the end of the counter and ordered coffee and a Bavarian Crème donut. Connie ordered her customary black tea with no donut. As the banter died, Connie turned serious.
"I thought of a way to force Molly and Carlo to commit a crime allowing us to catch them. It is simple but requires deceiving them into action. We have used something similar before, and it worked well."
Slade replied, "Fill me in on your idea. I am all for provoking them to action. We know that they imprisoned at least one new victim. The lights were on in the basement cell area and the upper floor apartments. What do you have in your plans?"
"We know that Carlo prefers the company of men in his life and usually feeds off the men Molly selects. It has been over three weeks since either one has fed or been with a strong, virile man. Based on those facts, I felt that Molly and Carlo selected their next victims tonight. Molly and Carlo held these victims in the cell and the apartment. The best way to catch them would be to raid the tavern and apartments."
Slade pondered for a few minutes, "There could be places to hide the prisoners in the tavern building. The best thing to do would force them to move the prisoners to the estate and follow them."
"Slade, how could we force the prisoner's movement from the tavern? That does not seem possible."
"We have a method that will work nicely for us. Raven, Molly's lawyer, asked Gwen to report on any activity that would trap Molly or Carlo. Gwen told us about the deal. We can use that knowledge to bait a trap to catch them moving the prisoners from the tavern to the estate." Slade looked around for Gwen, but she left with Quinn and Anna.
"Do you think that will work in our favor this time? It might not catch both criminals."
"I am not sure, Connie, but we have to try something to get this case solved. It is stuck right now, and I fear that they will kill another victim soon." Slade shook his head and moved out of the conference room to find Gwen.
As he walked down the hall, Slade heard banter and laughter from the break area. He walked in, and the room went silent. In his mind, he thought, "Why does everyone think I am a hard ass and shut down when I approach?" Slade motioned for Gwen to follow him, but stopped because the rest of the team needs to know the new plan.
Rather than talk there, Slade asked, "Would you all mind returning to the conference room. Connie and I have something that may break this case wide open in a short time. I would like you to hear it." Everyone filed back to the conference room behind Slade.
When everyone sat around the table again, Slade began, "Connie came up with the idea that will force Molly and Carlo to move anyone they have imprisoned at the tavern. It is very simple really and will get them caught easily."
"If it is that easy, why have we waited so long to try it out? Is it illegal to work on it?" Eran asked.
"It is not illegal, but a bit of a risk. Gwen needs to get involved, and we need to time everything carefully. Here is what we need to do. Gwen needs to talk to Raven about a raid on the tavern set for a certain time. We need to stake out the tavern waiting for Molly and Carlo to move their current victims to the estate. Then we capture them either as they leave the tavern or drive onto the estate. That is it, plain and simple."
Everyone looked at Gwen first then back to Slade. There was a low murmur as the group pondered the plan. Gwen smiled and took Quinn's hand. She felt embarrassed by the attention. Gwen felt it was an easy plan and would trap Molly and Carlo. The one thing she did not like was that it could also trap Raven, as well. Raven was a lawyer who worked on the edge of the law. The ruse would trap Raven in an illegal act if she told Molly of the raid.
When the noise died, and everyone looked back at Slade, Connie spoke, "Slade and I have used a similar tactic in the past, and it trapped a violent killer. Although Carlo is not a killer, he and Molly work together to find her victims and his playthings. We will wait a few days to spread the rumor because Anna and Quinn will be new to the tavern and suspect if it all goes down too soon. That is all we have for now. Everyone, go to work and let's get these people into our preternatural prison system for good."
Gwen sat at the conference table as the others left the room. Slade and Connie stayed behind as well. Gwen quietly asked, "Is there any way that Raven can be blameless in this plan? She is one of the leaders of the local pack, and I may get into trouble if she ends in jail too."
"We can't promise anything, but we can keep the deception part of the plan quiet. We can report that we found them moving the victims to another location. That will protect you and Raven from any suspicion. The only problem would come about if Molly or Carlo implicated Raven. That would make her an accomplice but leave you in the clear. Besides that, you are acting as an agent for the VJS and have immunity from implication and prosecution." Connie replied trying to calm Gwen. "Now let's get busy with this case."