DISCLAIMER: Nikki & Nora are the property of Nancylee Myatt and Warner Bros. Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Mudbug is a Creole slang term for crawfish. Crawdad is also a slang term for the muddy, little crustaceans.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"What?" Nora folded her arms across her chest, staring at her boss in disbelief while her partner stood idly by. Nikki wasn't happy with their new assignment either but, for some reason, she couldn't help but be amused at the current situation, albeit a very serious situation for the city's economy.
"I need you and Nikki to get to the bottom of this crawfish crisis. If we can't find the person destroying all the crawfish farms in our area, the restaurants will have to go outside New Orleans and the surrounding parishes to buy their crawfish. Higher cost to the owners will mean higher cost to the consumer." Dan didn't want to assign his two best homicide detectives to the case, but orders had come directly from the mayor that every precinct was to put their best people on the case until the problem had been resolved.
"Consumer being the operative word, I take it." Nikki chuckled, continuing to find the whole matter humorous, even though she knew the mudbug conundrum was already growing into a major problem. Just this morning, her daddy had complained about the rise in the cost of a platter of boiled crawfish and, if a man who had the resources to pay the outlandish prices was complaining, she could just imagine how upset the working class of the city had to be, not to mention the tourists.
Nora stood her ground. "Dan, we're homicide detectives."
Nikki tilted her head, pointing out, "Well, the crawfish are systematically being poisoned, so I guess you could say we're dealing with mass murder."
"Not helping," Nora muttered under her breath, elbowing her partner in the side to emphasize her point.
"We're considered a Special Crimes Unit, Nora. This is about as special a crime as we can find," Dan answered, smiling at his poetic turn of phrase. "Now, you need to hand your cases over to Georgia. You and Nikki are on permanent assignment to the crawfish crisis until the matter is resolved."
"I can't believe we're hunting down crawdad killers," Nora complained, driving down a dirt road; the ground so dry, the car left a growing cloud of dust in its wake.
"Well, at least we can rule out the usual suspects." Nikki used her fingers to count off the individuals they could disregard. "The husband or wife of the victim certainly didn't do it; a disgruntled crawfish is in the clear, no crawfish stood to gain any money from the massacre, and I'm pretty sure the crawfish mafia isn't to blame either."
Nora gripped the steering wheel more tightly. "Real funny, Hon. I'm glad you're enjoying yourself on this one. Now, what do you say we concentrate on the human element of the crimes and solve this case?"
"Okay, I did ask Dan to check out all the complaints from the crawfish farmers to see if there'd been any problems amongst each other, and I also requested a list of farms that haven't been affected."
"So, you think someone's trying to get the monopoly on crawfish?" Nora turned her head towards her partner, glad to see that Nikki had taken initial steps to build a background on possible suspects.
Nikki nodded. "Yep. Daddy made a comment yesterday that stuck in my mind."
"What was that?"
"He said, 'some son of a bitch is going to get rich on the suffering of others.' I think somebody is shooting for the title of Crawfish King."
For the first time since they'd been assigned the case, Nora laughed. The image of some farmer surrounded by crawfish ponds, wearing a red flowing cape and a crown of diamond shaped mudbugs, had immediately popped into her head. She reached for her lover's hand and turned onto the road leading to one of the affected farms.
Two days later, Nikki and Nora stood outside one of the precinct's interrogation rooms, watching their main suspect through the viewing glass. Dan entered the room and joined the two women as they formulated their questioning strategy.
"So, ladies. How do you want to play this one?"
"I think we should play the rich man/poor man angle," Nora suggested, having already discussed the strategy with her partner.
"How so?" Dan turned to Nora. He trusted his detectives, but he wanted to be sure they were able to get a confession from the man. He didn't want to be known as the chief that single-handedly ruined the economy of New Orleans.
"We know it was money motivated, Dan. You're just going to have to trust us."
"Okay, Nora. Just get the guy; I'd like to be able to tell the mayor that the problem has definitely been resolved."
The two detectives nodded and started for the door, but Nikki suddenly stopped in the doorway and turned to address her boss. "When you call Howard with the good news, be sure to tell him hi for me." Smiling, she followed Nora to the next room, confident that they'd get their confession.
Just outside the interrogation room, Nikki reached for the buttons of her silk blouse and undid the first few, but Nora promptly fastened them back and glared at her lover for even thinking about flashing anyone else but her. Chuckling, Nikki winked at her partner and opened the door. John Boudreaux immediately looked up and watched the two women move to the other side of the table.
"Hello, John. Let me formally introduce ourselves; I'm Detective Beaumont and this is Detective Delaney. We'd like to ask you a few questions, if we may?"
Nikki's smooth easy style confused the sandy haired man. He was certain that the tough little blonde was going to rake him over the coals but, instead, it appeared the tall, elegant brunette was taking the lead. Smiling, Boudreaux nodded his head, only to have it turn sharply towards Nora as she suddenly mounted a surprise attack.
"We know you poisoned the farms, John. Your garage was filled with drums of Drano. Now, unless you have the mother of all clogged drains or you're moonlighting as a plumber, I'd say you're guilty as sin."
"Now, Nora. John just wanted to make some money. I'm sure he was tired of watching all the other owners make the profits while he slaved away on his tiny, little farm. You know how it is to want for more."
Nora bit the side of her cheek to keep from smiling; she hadn't been expecting Nikki to start the game so soon. "Just because you have everything you ever wanted doesn't mean the rest of us do."
John's eyes grew large. The two detectives had turned towards each other and were totally ignoring him.
Nikki folded her arms across her chest. "And just what do you mean by that?"
Nora rolled her eyes and turned her attention to John. "Can you believe her? I mean, really; look at that outfit, would you? Designer blouse, designer jeans, and boots that probably cost more than our two paychecks combined."
John obediently followed Nora's instructions, looking the brunette up and down. He didn't reply, but he nodded in acknowledgment of the detective's statement.
"Oh, please. Don't tell me that you wouldn't lie, cheat, and steal to have just a fraction of what I have. John, here, understands, don't you, John?"
Reflexively, the sandy haired man once again nodded in agreement, but he still continued to hold his tongue. Nora huffed her disapproval and, in the viewing room, Dan couldn't tell if his ex-partner was upset at the non-response or with Nikki's biting words.
"I'd rather live in the streets than commit a crime for money. It just wouldn't feel right hurting others so that I could get a few dollars more."
Nikki moved to the table and sat on its edge. Crossing her long legs, she waited until the suspect's eyes were glued to her shapely thighs. "Crawfish aren't people, Nora. They're just little ol' mudbugs. Killing a few of them to make a profit isn't a crime."
In an exaggerated move, Nikki re-crossed her legs and watched as John's eyes followed the movement. "It's no big deal to kill the dirty, little crustaceans; just pour some Drano here and there, and poof, no more crawfish. It's really very simple, isn't it, John?"
Completely mesmerized by the toned legs, John Boudreaux replied, "It really is. It also helps if you know the prime location to pour the stuff. It was easy; no one even knew what I was doing."
Nikki leaned towards the suspect. "Thanks, John. You've been extremely helpful. An officer will be here shortly to get you to sign your statement."
Standing, the brunette smiled at her partner. Nora just grinned and ushered her lover from the room, making it a point to wink back at John Boudreaux on her way out. The poor bastard never stood a chance.
The two lovers lay in a bathtub full of bubbles with a quiet Nora leaning back against her lover. Nikki inched forward and slowly kissed the nearby lips, nipping at the blonde's lower lip as she pulled away.
"Nora? You haven't said much today. Are you feeling okay?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah; I'm fine. Just thinking is all."
Nikki placed her arms more firmly around Nora's middle. "You're not upset with me, are you? You know I didn't mean any of the things I said today, right?"
"I know. I was thinking about what it truly means to be rich." Nora moved her hands down to meet those of her lover's, intertwining their fingers and marveling at how perfect the fit was.
Nibbling at a conveniently located neck, Nikki mumbled, "So, what did you decide?"
Nora turned her head to give her lover better access. "Um, money's secondary." The blonde moaned her approval of the light suction. "Loving someone is what makes one's life rich."
Nikki released the blonde's right hand and slowly slid her now free hand down the taut stomach until it was nestled between two firm legs. "Well, in that case, Hon, I'm about to make you a billionaire."
Moments later, water sloshed over the edge of the tub while the city's remaining crawfish population slept safely and soundly in their ponds. No other words were spoken between their two saviors as Nikki continued to make good on her promise to ensure that Nora became the richest woman in the world.
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