The following day, Mac and Roxy were sent over to Lawthorne Lane to help the burglary team investigate the recent break-ins. Their first stop was a fashion boutique at the end of the road. As Roxy took statements from shop workers, Mac was given the task of collecting and photographing evidence.
As he popped back to his patrol car to get some fresh batteries for the camera, a young cadet appeared from out of nowhere, running towards him at top speed.
"DI Miskin! DI Miskin!"
Mac turned to him, worried.
After the cadet took a moment to desperately draw in breath, he answered.
"Sir, you need to go back to the station right away. The Chief wants to see you. Urgently."
"Very well. I'll just fetch Officer Rhodes - "
Mac stopped, confused.
"Pardon me, sir, but the Chief was very specific," the cadet continued. "She has to stay here. He only wants to see you."
Mac was puzzled, but knew that orders had to be obeyed. Nodding, he got into his car, and drove off.
The moment arrived at the station, Mac was ushered post-haste into the Chief's office. As he entered, the Chief closed the door behind him - and locked it for good measure - before returning to his desk and taking a seat.
"DI Miskin," he began, "the information I am about to disclose to you is to remain top secret until I say otherwise. Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir," Mac replied.
The Chief handed him a photo over the table. Mac examined it carefully. It was an image of a familiar, well-off couple.
"Do you recognise these two?" the Chief asked.
"Of course," Mac said. "They're Lavinia and Richard Rhodes. Roxy's aunt and uncle."
"I feared as much."
"Sir, I know little else about them. If you want information, you might be best speaking to - "
"No, Miskin. Out of the question."
By now, Mac was beginning to feel very uneasy.
"Sir?" he probed. "What's happened?"
The Chief sighed. Rising from his desk, he paced around the room, struggling to find the words he had to say.
"Lavinia and Richard Rhodes were kidnapped by the suspected burglars last night," he told Mac, grimly. "Their motive remains unclear, but it is common knowledge that Mr. Rhodes is one of the wealthiest business owners in town."
Mac sunk back into his chair, stunned.
"Oh my God... does Roxy -"
"No, Miskin. We've not told her. And we're not planning to unless we have to. Once she's finished at the fashion boutique, I am going to ask her to work from home for the day - write up some paperwork, something like that. We think it's best if she isn't involved in this."
He paused for a moment.
"Besides," he added, "hopefully, by tonight, it will all be over. They'll be safe, and our scoundrel will be in custody."
"You're sending someone in?"
The Chief turned towards him, looking him square in the eye.
"... and that someone is you."
Mac's eyes widened.
"Yes, Miskin. You're the best man for this. Twelve years' experience, and an excellent case record. With Officer Rhodes out of the picture, we wouldn't trust anyone else."
He sat down once more.
"Are you willing to do this?" he asked.
Mac weighed up the facts in his head. This was going to be dangerous - no doubt about that. But it was his duty to protect the innocent. And the victims weren't just any unfortunate pair of millionaires - they were Roxy's only living relatives.
And Roxy meant more to him than anything in the world.
He needed no persuasion.
"Yes, sir," he replied, firmly and confidently. "I'm your man."
"Excellent. Return here at 5pm in your normal attire - uniforms may arouse suspicion, so we're going plain clothes for this. And not a word to Rhodes - if she asks you anything, you're visiting family. Clear?"
"Good. You may go."
"Mac? Can I use your computer? I need to do some stupid writing, or something."
Roxy, having just arrived home, peered into Mac's bedroom, looking for him. She wasn't sure why she'd been sent away from the crime scene so suddenly - being on Lawthorne Lane anyway, she'd figured that she might as well call on her aunt and uncle, but the Chief insisted that the paperwork had to be done.
Mac wasn't in his room, either. That was funny - he didn't seem to be anywhere in the house. Maybe he was working overtime. Milo would still be at the hospital, and Zara had mentioned nipping over to Miranda's for coffee and a jam session.
It looked like she had the house to herself.
Roxy was sure Mac wouldn't mind her using his PC - it was for work purposes, after all. She stepped into the room, and settled herself down into his plush office chair at his desk.
For about five minutes, she managed to do a bit of the utterly tedious paperwork... but her active, lively mind soon wandered off track. Before she knew it, Roxy found herself opening the web browser in search of a funny cat video or two.
As the homepage loaded up, Roxy's eye was drawn to the bookmarks logged in a list at one side of the browser window. Unable to control her curiosity, she skimmed over them one by one... and was stunned by what she saw.
Odd. Perhaps Mac had done some research for Louisa when she and Cheyenne had discussed starting a family a few months back. Now, they had a lovely little girl - Clara.
As for Laura and Vincent's son, James... well, Roxy had always assumed he'd been conceived naturally, but perhaps not. It wasn't an important detail anyway - regardless, he was loved and cherished.
Roxy was about to turn away and continue her search for amusing felines, but intrigued, she decided to read on. After seeing the next few entries, she really was confused.
Advice for single fathers. Rights of sperm donors. Paternity leave for police.
It didn't make any sense. Milo had married Zara after the triplets' birth, yes - but he'd never been a single father. Going further back, Mordecai had almost always had Lily to help him. And anyway, no-one else in the family was a police officer.
The realisation fell on Roxy like a ton of bricks.
"Oh my God. Mac... wants a baby?"
She'd gone too far. Seen too much.
Closing the browser hastily, Roxy tried her best to bury herself in police reports and incident write-ups... but what she had discovered continued to linger in the forefront of her mind.
On Solomon Street - a quiet road in the less privileged part of town - an unmarked car pulled up against the pavement, hidden under cover of darkness. In the driver's seat was the Chief of Police, with Mac - back in his everyday clothes as instructed - beside him as the front passenger.
The Chief motioned towards a small, shabby house at the end of the street. It appeared to be empty, with no lights on in the windows.
"That's where we think the Rhodes are being held," he told his colleague. "We need you to go in there and see what's going on."
"Be careful. The second you can confirm that they're in there, get back here and we'll work on a plan."
"I will, sir."
"Good man. Best of luck, Miskin."
Mac got out of the car, and slowly walked towards the house. Upon reaching it, he knocked on the front door and waited for an answer. A few minutes later, it hadn't come.
He knocked again. Still no luck.
Mac cast his eyes around the house, looking for an alternative entrance. His gaze fell on a small hatch door in the yard - one that presumably led to the basement. Intrigued by this discovery, he pulled at it gently. It opened at once, revealing a dark staircase.
Carefully and cautiously, Mac made his way down the stairs - too tense to make a single sound. There was still no sign of the Rhodes.
He arrived at the bottom of the stairwell to find himself in almost pitch-black darkness. As he tried to get his bearings, he suddenly felt a heavy thud on the back of his head, followed by a rush of overwhelming pain.
Unable to cope, he passed out helplessly onto the cold stone floor below... a trailing trickle of blood spilling out from his wound.