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Terrence LaVine was no stranger to large sums of cash, but this was different. Over $5 million dollars were sitting on the coffee table. There was one dead king-pin slumped over the couch, holding his chest. Apparently, Russo had died from a heart attack. There were no bullet holes and no sign of a struggle. It appeared that he had died a peaceful death. Terrance LaVine realized that he had gone too far.
Russo DaLatina, the deceased was LaVine’s mob boss. This would have been a normal mob boss, gang-member relationship, except Terrance LaVine’s real name was Lawrence Dugan. Detective Lawrence Dugan was a decorated law enforcement officer, with the Los Angeles Police Department. He accepted an undercover assignment to bring down one of Southern California’s largest drug organizations.
Dugan’s life flashed before him, as he made a decision he wouldn’t be able to return from.
After two years of undercover work, Dugan decided to spend a little time with his sister and his niece. Today was his niece’s birthday, and he promised his sister that he would bring a couple bags of ice for the birthday party. He intentionally showed up at the party without the ice.
Getting the ice was his reason for leaving the birthday party, after Russo, called and demanded that he come to the estate, immediately.
When LaVine arrived at the estate, he found Russo’s body slumped over on the couch. The odd thing was there were no bodyguards, and Joey, the rock wilder, was gone.
LaVine’s thoughts begin to race as he calculated how he could save his job and satisfy the pain in his heart, at the same time. Could he take most of the money and not be a suspect? Where were the bodyguards? Where was the dog? Who knew Russo would be counting money? Had Russo called him because he was having a heart attack?
Detective Dugan, aka LaVine, needed all the answers before he could make a decision.
La Vine made a telephone call to Russo’s chief security officer, Benny. “Hey man I’m on my way to the estate, I just called and no one answered.”
Benny replied, “Russo gave the security team a couple hours off. Joey is with them.” Joey was Russo’s rock wilder, who was known for taking the phone off the hook when it rung, and then barking into the phone as if someone could understand him. Continue below.
LaVine didn’t tell Benny that he was already at the estate. He lied, saying that he was at home. He quickly hung up the phone before Benny could ask any questions. He knew Benny would call, Russo and when there was no answer, he would hurry over to the estate.
LaVine, stuffed $4 million into a bag that was on the floor. He deliberately left around $1 million on the coffee table and started to look around the living room for the hidden cameras. Russo was known for keeping the hidden camera on during transactions. Once he found the camera, he carefully erased the previous eighteen hours of recordings, along with his fingerprints. He then looked around for any other recording devices and to see if he had forgotten anything.
At that moment, the phone rang. He noticed that there has been almost a five-minute delay in the time that he spoke to Benny and the time that he called the estate. LaVine allowed the phone to ring, as he slipped out the front door, being careful not to be seen by neighbors.
LaVine hid the money in the panel of his car door when he stopped at the convenience store for ice. He then hurried back to his sister’s house, with a dripping bag of ice.
The afternoon birthday party, with screaming 10-year-olds, was no picnic, but it wasn’t the ten-year-old kids that frighten Dugan. He had to see Maria after he left his sister’s house. He needed to give Maria time to learn what happened to Russo. This was the meeting that he was nervous about, and no amount of department training could have prepared him for this meeting.
Maria had been with Russo since she was fifteen. Her mother had sold her to Russo for the price of a fix. She was one of the most mature young women LaVine had ever met.
He remembered the first time he saw her. Maria had long black hair down her back, with a chest that would make a bulldog bark. Her tiny waist, which she always accented, and her hips gave J-Lo competition.
Even though Maria was supposed to be Russo’s private property, LaVine had fallen in love with her.
Except for the fact that Maria was a criminal who did the scheduling for the organization, she was a perfect match for LaVine. She kept him excited about life, she was smart, funny and extremely attractive, as was he. Maria filled a void in him that he wasn’t even aware he had. All he knew was he wanted to be with her for the rest of his life. He felt Maria had been cheated in life. She never had the opportunity to make a decision to be a lawful person or a criminal. Her rights were stripped from her at an early age.
Maria spoke four languages and was exceptionally bright for not having finished high school. Russo had insisted that she receive home-schooling, where she learned computer skills, German, French, math, and art.
Maria was in love with him, as much as he was with her. Russo was the only man she had known before LaVine. She risked her life to be with him, and he fully understood what kind of commitment that took. Russo would have killed both of them had he found out.
Maria loved the small cheap apartment that they had rented in a low-income part of Los Angeles. It wasn’t often that they would get to meet, but when they did, it was always special. Twice a month, Russo would leave town for a couple days. This was when LaVine and Maria would meet-up and play house.
Once he arrived, he was satisfied to see that Maria had arrived before him. Her silver Corvette was parked in the car shed.
LaVine parked his car, flipped a switch and the inside panel of his car door opened. With $4 million in a bag, LaVine climbed the starts to the second-floor studio apartment. He opened the front door and Maria rushed into his arms. She was terrified over Russo’s death. After a passionate kiss, the couple sat on the bed to discuss the day’s events and compare notes.
Maria knew Russo was dead and was frantic because the money was missing. She was so nervous that her hand was shaking. “We can’t get any information from the police. All we know is, he wasn’t shot or stabbed,” she said repeatedly.
Benny, the head of security, had called the police when he found Russo, after he sweep the house for any evidence that would incriminate them. So it had been late afternoon before the police were notified.
La Vine asked Maria, very softly, “How do you know the money was missing?
Maria responded with a surprised look on her face, “There was a drop, there had to be cash.”
LaVine was supposed to know that, but he didn’t. He was never told about the drop. Did Russo call him over to the estate to kill him?
Maria started to cry, between the tears she confided, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t have a job and Russo had all the money.”
LaVine was a little upset that Maria didn’t realize that if it weren’t for him, her next stop would be prison.
Maria’s tears lead to LaVine, stroking her hair and making an effort to comfort her. Their touching turned into kissing and within moments, love making was on the agenda.
LaVine, was in no hurry for the passion to end, but he knew the department would be looking for him, especially since they knew Russo was dead. He had to report in, and he had to come clean with Maria about who he really was, and get her out of the country, all within two hours.
He gently held Maria as he explained the facts. He held her close, so as not to allow her emotions to take control, and to keep her from shooting him with the small pearl handle pistol she kept in her purse. Continue below.
Much to his surprise, she was quiet, non-emotional and listened to his every word. “When I first join the group as an undercover officer, I listed you in my weekly reports. I couldn’t figure out how to take you out of the reports without the police arresting you, so I left you in the reports.”
LaVine then explained that he had the money from Russo’s estate and this money would be used for her to leave the country and to live without the worry of money. He explained that he would be in touch with her, and would try to join her soon.
Terrance knew that Maria was driven by money and as long as she believed that he had over $4 million to share with her, she would be loyal and wait.
Maria asked him to repeat the part about having the $5 million dollars. Terrance corrected her and told her he had only taken $4 million, and $1 million was left on the table. He then pointed to the black bag he had dropped at the door when he first entered the apartment.
Maria’s eyes sparkled, and just as quickly, she began to cry. “When will I see you again?”
Detective Lawrence Dugan, hugged her and promised that it would be soon. He let Maria know that he would imply that she had taken the money and disappeared.
Maria nodded her head to show that she understood. She slowly went into the restroom to clean herself up. Terrance made sure her purse was still on the night stand.
Maria always carried her passport, so there was no problem to leave the country in a hurry. The couple decided that she would take a bus to San Diego, and then take the red trolley to the Tijuana border.
Maria listened with concentration as the man she loved laid out her escape plan. She knew if she got caught with over $10,000 crossing the border, she could get in trouble if the guards searched her. In her mind, Maria was thinking about how she could hide the money.
Maria was no dummy, she knew she could get caught just by having ‘too” much money in her possession when crossing the border.
Maria explained her concerns and decided to only take $9,999, $2000 of which she stuffed in
her panties. Maria loved money, but she was intelligent. She wanted to be sure that there would be no reason for her to be detained at the border.
The couple agreed to communicate the same way they had when Russo was alive. He reminded Maria to only purchase phones at stores that didn’t have surveillance cameras.
The plan was for Terrance to return to the police force and be a normal police officer until he could arrange for a suitable termination. Then he would join Maria in a location to be determined. Terrance’s biggest problem was how to get almost $4 million dollars in cash out of the country.
Maria’s job was to change her identity. She would have facial reconstructed surgery done in Mexico. She understood that the procedures would be painful, and she would be alone. Maria seemed to understand that the rules would help make sure she was safe from the law.
The couple kissed for the last time, before leaving for the L.A. Greyhound Bus station.
After the Greyhound Bus pulled off, LaVine, carefully put the bag with the money in a bus station locker closest to the customer service desk and prayed that there wouldn’t be a fire. He kept his head down and his face away from the cameras as he headed back to his car, which he parked a block away.
He placed the key into his pocket and headed to back home.
Later that evening Detective Dugan completed the necessary police reports. He had always been a good police officer, a good citizen, and a good person. He was not proud of what he had done, even so, he realized that his heart wanted Maria, and it didn’t matter what his mind said. Yes, he had been undercover too long. These things happen, Detective Dugan though to himself.
He could live another day, knowing that he had done everything in his power to ensure her safety, even if it meant breaking the law. Sure he knew the rules, and sure he knew how to play the game, but somewhere in those crucial moments, Maria had gotten close to his heart. For that, he was not ashamed. Maria deserved a chance at a better life.
Upon returning to work, Detective Dugan, did what was expected of him. He completed the necessary reports needed for the department to issue arrest warrants to Russo’s gang, Maria, and his undercover contacts.
He checked in with the department’s therapist to set up routine sessions. The doctor had to sign off on his mental health before he could return to active duty.
LaVine had no intentions of passing the psychotherapy screening. And he would not be allowed to return to full duty until he did. Terrence Dugan would experience four, five, maybe six months of serious depression, before asking for a medical leave.
He would be watched. He would be screened, questioned and requestioned. His bank accounts would be checked, he would be followed and observed, but he was ready. He didn’t have to worry about accusations about stolen money, he left money on the table, and the money had disappeared. The police believed Benny took the money, never once did they blame Maria for the missing money. And since Benny really did take the remaining $1 million or so, he didn’t have a lot to say once he was arrested.
Within a year he would join Maria, where ever she was in the world. He would live out his life with the woman he loved. Maria, had risked so much for him, her safety and her life, now it was his turn, and he was determined to do no less for her.
This short fictional story was written by Valinda and is no way a reflection on the LAPD or undercover police officers throughout the nation. Follow Us on Twitter and receive free Kindle Books each month. (There is a flaw in the master plan, see if you can find it!)
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Book II in the Lawrence Dugan Private Investigator Story (Series)